It was a senior night to remember for Ball State Women's Volleyball (21-8, 12-4 MAC) as they won in 5-sets against Akron (11-16, 3-13 MAC) to end the regular season.
A celebration of the seniors was held following the match, recognizing the following players from the Cardinal squad: Avery Devoe, Emily Holland, Jessica Lindsey, Ellie Dunn, Carly Capello, Lauren Schreiner and Meg Starling. Head coach Kelli Miller said this senior class has worked hard from the moment they joined the team.
“They are constantly putting this team and the program first,” Miller said. “When you have players that you can trust to put the team before anything else, it makes having them here so much more enjoyable.”
In her fifth year for the Cardinals, Starling explained how this team is a second family for her, as it is for the rest of them.
“This team means absolutely everything to me,” Starling said. “They’ve seen me at my highs and my lows. On and off the court, we are all so incredibly close.”
Lindsey also described how much the team means to her, saying that being a part of it has been so much more than just playing volleyball.
“It’s great getting to play together, of course, but the bonds we’ve created have been even more special,” Lindsey said. “We all get along very well and these are friendships that will last forever.”
Solo blocks from Dunn and Starling got the Cardinals off to a good start in the match. Late in the first set, the Zips went on a 4-1 run to cut the Cardinal lead to one. The Cardinals quickly turned around and took the set after three consecutive attack errors from senior Kayla Gwozdz and a set-point kill from Dunn.
The Cardinals went on multiple runs throughout the second set, the largest being seven points to give them an 11-4 lead. The Zips remained behind by a fairly large margin, never coming within less than six after the Cardinals’ longest run. The Cardinals moved to 2-0 in the series with a 25-16 victory.
“We did a nice job of maintaining the game plan when it came to our blocking discipline,” Miller said. “Our blocking was definitely our biggest strength tonight.”
The Zips challenged the Cardinals in the third set, maintaining the lead throughout after the set tied at 9-9. Gwozdz and junior Ashley Richardson were strong frontline forces for the Zips, each tallying four kills. The Cardinals were unable to come back from the deficit and the Zips grabbed their first win of the match.
Another four-point run for the Zips started off the fourth set, giving Akron a 6-1 lead. Back-to-back kills from graduate student Jessica Lindsey and one from VanBeek gave the Cardinals some momentum, aided by the increase in errors from the Zips. Despite a couple of Cardinal leads, the Zips fought hard in a late back-and-forth battle to win the set, 25-23.
“Akron knew that this was their last regular season match, as well, and they fought incredibly hard,” Miller said. “They came to play and gave it their all.”
Courtesy of kills from senior Meg Starling and VanBeek, the Cardinals led from the first point of the final set. An ace from junior Kate Avila, two blocks by Seaman, and kills from across the Cardinal frontline would grant the Cardinals with the match victory, 3-2.
Leading the offense was Dunn with 15 kills, followed by Lindsey with 11 of her own. The blocks that kept the Cardinals alive were courtesy of Seaman, Starling, and freshman Reece Kral.