The Cardinals (3-3, 0-0 MAC) brought their offense with them to the Gonzaga Tournament this weekend, going 2-1 against Grand Canyon, Montana and Gonzaga.
“The Grand Canyon match was tough,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “We didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we kept battling and showed resilience, especially in those fourth and fifth sets. I was proud of several players this weekend, especially in our first-year players and their growth so far.”
Friday’s first match saw a back-and-forth battle with Grand Canyon. The Cardinals took sets two, four and five while the Lopes won sets one and three. Ball State totaled 73 kills compared to Grand Canyon’s 66. Freshmen Natalie Risi, Allison Hamaker and Natalie Mitchem led the way in kills in the match with 17, 16 and 14, respectively.
After the five-set match, the Cardinals took on Montana where they found more consistent success as they swept the Grizzlies, 3-0. The Cardinals had 38 kills compared to the Grizzlies’ 23, along with seven aces compared to two for Montana.
“After the way we began the match versus Grand Canyon, we knew we had to get off to a better start, and we did, which carried over to sets two and three as well,” Miller Philips said.
Risi, Mitchem and Hamaker came up big for Ball State once again, leading the way in kills for the team. Risi had 10, Mitchem had eight and Hamaker had seven. Senior setter Amber Seaman had 21 of the team’s 35 assists, and junior setter Ali Finch added nine.
The Cardinals finished out the tournament with a Saturday match against Gonzaga. Ball State was unable to overcome the Bulldogs as the Cardinals fell in straight sets, 25-19, 25-20 and 25-21, respectively. Gonzaga had the advantage in kills, aces, blocks and assists against the Cardinals.
“We didn’t end the way we wanted to on Saturday, but I’m proud of how we just stuck together as a team from Friday to Saturday,” Risi said. “We can definitely improve in some areas going forward, which we will.”
Ball State will be back in action Friday in the Northern Kentucky Tournament in Highland Heights, Kentucky.