Ball State head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said the team’s road trip against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois was going to be the toughest of the season.
Coming off of a two-game winning streak at home, the Cardinals (14-11, 8-5 MAC) conquered part one of this challenge, beating Western Michigan (13-12, 4-9 MAC) in four sets, as the offense set the tone to lead the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory.
“We want to keep getting stronger and stronger as we come closer to the MAC Tournament,” Miller Phillips said. “I really think our focus has continued to be not worrying about the game before us or after us. It takes a lot of mental toughness to just focus [on] one game at a time.”
Ball State found contribution all around the board with four players reaching double-figures in kills, three with double-digit digs and two who tallied 10 or more assists.
Freshman defensive specialist Maggie Huber put up a career-high 26 digs on the night. Freshman outside hitter Natalie Risi led the team with 18 kills and added 10 digs. Senior setter Amber Seaman led the Cardinals with 41 assists.
“I think we are developing more people offensively,” Miller Phillips said. “I think Kia Holder and Reece Kral have been good for us. We have added specifically Kia, who has taken really good swings even when we are not passing perfectly. I think her presence and scoring ability really has elevated our team.”
When the Mid-American Conference Tournament rolls around Nov. 21, the team’s depth could really make a positive impact, especially if the Cardinals have to play four games in four days.
“I think we have a lot of players who are starters,” Miller Phillips said. “Any given night, people are coming in and playing their role really well, which can give us confidence as a team because no matter what, we can have somebody ready to come in and ready to fight.”
The Cardinals achieved their first three-game winning streak of the season, and Miller Phillips attributed the win to multiple areas.
“I think our ball control has continued to improve,” Miller Phillips said. “When we serve and pass well, which I think we have done more consistently the past three matches, it makes us very tough to stop.”
Ball State will try to complete part two of its road challenge when it plays at Northern Illinois (8-19, 5-8 MAC) Saturday at 7 p.m.