Cardinals prove strength through adversity in win over Buffalo
Down, 1-0. Down, 2-1. Coming back to win in five sets.
This has been the result of Ball State Women’s Volleyball (13-11, 7-5 MAC) in its last two matches with the latest being in the win over Buffalo (9-15, 5-7) Saturday.
Head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said those wins are action-packed but also put an emphasis on getting off to better starts and staying composed.
“I think trying to relax sooner,” Miller Phillips said. “Once we get out there and start competing, we start to relax. I don’t know if we are playing too tight, but I know it is something we are trying to work on because we have to get off to better starts.”
In these last two games, the Cardinals have shown positive traits that have kept them in games and led to their victory. It is a deep team that plays together, and that has brought Ball State through adversity.
“They definitely keep believing,” Miller Phillips said. “They are showing a lot of fight and a lot of grit, and it just takes mental toughness to just keep battling and keep battling. We played a lot of different people tonight, and I thought everyone that came in gave us the spark we needed.”
Junior outside hitter Kia Holder was a prime example of the Cardinals’ depth, as she put up a career-high 21 kills. She said she was confident all week in practice, and that feeling carried over to Saturday.
“My mindset is kind of just trusting the training and compete,” Holder said. “I like to compete, and I kind of just take it personally on the court. I just go out there, and try not to be tense and just go out there and play.”
Thursday against Toledo, it was freshmen Natalie Risi and Esther Grussing with career-bests performances. The Cardinals are starting to show how deep they really are late in the season.
“Our versatility and depth is certainly something that is a strength of ours,” Miller Phillips said. “I thought Kia has been playing with confidence in practice, and I thought it was her best week of practice this week. That is why she got the nod.”
Holder is bringing a veteran presence to the team, and she is showing what she has been capable of all season. Her last two matches consisted of her two highest kill games.
“She is playing smart,” Miller Phillips said. “She is playing like a veteran hitter, and that is exactly what we needed. She has always been capable of that, but just giving her that confidence and everything she did tonight was really good.”
Holder said she’s all in on the team, and her positivity and leadership have shown in these last two games.
“It feels good to be able to come out and perform well for my team,” Holder said. “I always knew I could do it, but it was just coming out and actually performing and competing against these teams.”
Ball State heads back on the road to play Western Michigan Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.