Ball State (20-8, 11-4 MAC) bounced back from last weekend’s losses with a sweep of Toledo (9-17, 4-11 MAC) Thursday. Sound defense led by junior Kate Avila resulted in the Cardinals’ first 20-win season since 2013.

“Our serve and pass game tonight was definitely an improvement from last weekend,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “We served really tough tonight, and it caused them to get out of their system.”

Avila was a guiding force for the Cardinal squad, grabbing 25 digs and two aces to keep the Cardinals alive through a .189 hitting percentage. 

“Kate went on several serving runs for us, and she kept us in a good flow,” Miller said. “She led us well and made a lot of key defensive plays that kept us ahead in the match.”

In her third year with the Cardinals, Avila has tallied 495 digs, with her season-high being against UMBC where she registered 29. Tonight marked her 10th match this season with 20 or more digs.

Senior Ellie Dunn helped the Cardinals to solidify their first win of the match after totaling 15 kills to the Rockets’ six. A score of 25-15 saw the Cardinals with a .333 hitting percentage and 14 digs from the back row. Leading the Rocket frontline were Elise Wilcox and Zoe Birnbrich who each posted two kills.

The Cardinals had an increase in attack errors during the second set, but they still outdid the Rockets in kills and hitting percentage. The Rockets had an early 6-5 lead, but once the Cardinals pushed back ahead at 14-13, they maintained the lead for the rest of the set and won, 25-20.

Both teams had a rough third set. The Cardinals hit at negative .031 percent, and the Rockets registering negative .051 percent. Three service aces aided the Cardinals in the victory of set three.

Ball State will finish its regular season schedule Saturday at home for senior night against Akron.

“Akron is a good serving team, so we have to go in with a good focus tomorrow,” Miller said. “I also want them to enjoy this last game. Senior night is always an emotional one, and I want them to enjoy it and have fun.” 

Contact Gabi Glass with comments at or on Twitter @GabiGlass.