Ball State Women’s Volleyball’s regular season starts Friday. In preparation, the Cardinals competed with Purdue Fort Wayne Saturday, a match that went the distance for a full five sets. 

The momentum took a complete 180 after the first two sets. Senior setter Amber Seaman said facing the Mastodons before the season got underway was a good test for the team.

“I thought it was a good test to see where we were at,” Seaman said. “I was really glad to get back out here and face another opponent because it has been a while since we’ve been out here.”

Mastodons stampede to strong start

Purdue Fort Wayne took the momentum right away in the first two sets, winning both, 25-19 and 25-20. The Mastodon offense hit early and often in both sets as it outhit Ball State by 19.4 percent in the first set. The Mastodons had six more kills than the Cardinals as well as fewer self-inflicted errors. 

“We have to start stronger with our service pressure,” Ball State head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “There were too many times where hitters were hitting, and we weren’t much of a factor at the net.”

The second set saw Ball State step up their defense a little more, cutting down Purdue Fort Wayne’s hit percentage to 23.1 percent. The Cardinals also had three blocks. Although their defense improved, the Cardinals’ 15.8 hit percentage and 13 kills couldn’t overcome the Mastodons.

Cardinals turn the tide

After dropping the first two sets, Ball State regrouped, winning sets three and four, 25-20 and 25-17.

“We finally got into some good rhythm,” Miller Phillips said. “Our passing was shaky in the first two sets, but in sets three and four, that improved, which made our offense get better and be more consistent.”

The Cardinal offense improved with a higher hit percentage and more kills than the Mastodons in the third set. Purdue Fort Wayne also committed three errors compared to only one by Ball State. 

The fourth set saw the Cardinals seize control with an eight-point win margin after overcoming some self-inflicted ball handling and service errors. Seaman said the confidence level of the team after set four.

“Kelli is really confident in all of us and everyone being out there,” Seaman said. “At one point, I was out there with all freshmen, and I think that’s a testament to our freshmen going into the season.”

Mastodons break the tie

After four back and forth sets, Purdue Fort Wayne’s offense started clicking again as the Mastodons walked away with a 15-10 set victory. The Mastodons had a 50 percent hit percentage compared to a negative 7.1 percent for the Cardinals, putting the nail in the coffin for Ball State. 

Despite the loss, Miller Phillips said she is happy with where her team is at with the season just days away.

“We have so many new people with nine freshman, and it’s going to take a minute for them to get comfortable,” Miller Phillips said. “By the end of the match, they looked like confident season veterans, which I’m proud of heading into the season.”

Contact Dorian Ducre with any comments at dkducre@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DucreDorian.