Ball State Women’s Volleyball (18-6, 9-2 MAC) came out hungry after a 3-1 loss against Northern Illinois (8-18, 6-5 MAC) earlier in the season. A team hitting percentage of .374 and 14 kills a piece from two Cardinal players allowed the them to come out on top, 3-0.

“This win was huge for us,” senior Ellie Dunn said. “We’ve been back-and-forth with NIU since I’ve been here, so losing to them earlier this year made it an even bigger deal to win on our home court tonight.”

Playing a full rotation, Dunn recorded yet another double-double with kills and digs tonight, grabbing 15 digs and 14 kills. The senior said she has to take each rotation for what it is: it’s own position.

“I don’t think too much about whichever spot I’m in,” Dunn said. “When I’m in the front row, I focus on hitting the ball and in the back row I focus on getting that solid pass so that someone can get their hit.” 

The Cardinals looked to junior Sydnee VanBeek to lead throughout set one and she would own six of the team’s 18 kills. A collective attack percentage of .350 was the ultimate weapon for the Cardinals, where the Huskies hit at .190, led by senior Meg Wolowicz with five kills. With help of solo blocks by seniors Meg Starling and Dunn, this one would go to the Cardinals, 25-20.

Attack errors hindered the Huskies throughout the match. Tallying 13 throughout the first two sets, the team struggled to make things happen in the front row, resulting in a .147. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinals maintained a solid offensive performance, ending set two with 33 total kills and upping their percentage to .408. Dunn led in digs after two sets, grabbing ten followed by junior Kate Avila with nine. Set two remained in favor of the Cardinals throughout, and they would enter set three 2-0.

“Ellie and Sydnee work very hard every single day,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “They are incredibly competitive. It helps when we’re passing the ball consistently, but those two are putting in the time and making themselves a great option.”

The Cardinal momentum bled into the third set with an early score of 10-5, but the Huskies weren’t done fighting. They would come back to tie the set at 14-14 with kills from sophomore Kennedy Wallce and sophomore Jori Radtke. Although the Huskies were able to battle for a few points, the Cardinals were hot late in the third set with three more kills from VanBeek and freshman Reece Kral. They would round out the match victory with a 25-18 win in the final set. 

Errors were ultimately a major deciding factor in the outcome of the match, where the Cardinals had only eight and the Huskies racked up 20.

“We hit at a high percentage, and that was the difference between this match versus the first time we played NIU,” Miller said. “We were able to pass well against some really solid servers and that’s where it starts. Our defense was significantly better this time around.” 

Led by Dunn and VanBeek, who each tallied 14 kills, the Cardinals also found Starling with seven and graduate student Jessica Lindsey with six. Dunn also led the team in digs with 15, followed by Kate Avila with 14.