Kaplan's leadership stands out in Ball State's win over Murray State

<p>Graphic by <strong>Emily Wright,DN</strong></p>

Graphic by Emily Wright,DN

Cardinal fans in attendance at the Muncie YMCA were not disappointed with Ball State’s (8-2, 0-0 MAC) efforts against Murray State (8-5, 0-0 Ohio Valley) Saturday. After losing the doubles point to the Racers, the Cardinals were in a tight battle all the way up to the final match, before ultimately taking the 4-3 win.

Ball State found itself in a little bit of trouble early. The pairs of junior Victoria Sec/freshman Amy Kaplan and senior Rebecca Herrington/freshman Jessica Braun lost their doubles matches to give the point to the Racers. It was the first time Braun and Herrington lost as a duo all season.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t compete our best in doubles right off the bat today.” assistant coach Meghan Kelley said. “Murray State competed really hard and made us play a lot of balls, but we should be ready for that and wanting that.”

The Cardinals found their groove in singles play, as they were able to rally from the loss in doubles to win four points in the singles matches. Kaplan, Herrington, sophomore Livia Lukacs and freshman Emily Desai netted wins for the Cardinals.

For the second time this season, the outcome came down to the final match. Lukacs was able to take the deciding point for the Cardinals at the five position after beating Murray State’s Sara Bjork. The only other time Ball State won 4-3 this season was on Feb. 1 against Middle Tennessee.

“Any 4-3 match is really special and exciting to be a part of,” Kelley said. “Today didn’t disappoint for sure. I just got here in August and these moments make me really embrace and be so grateful to be here with a team that cares so much.”

Kaplan won her singles match at the third position and improved her record to 8-1, a team-best. She was recently moved from the fourth position a few games ago.

“Amy is a really special player,” Kelley said. “Right away, she established herself as a leader on this team as a freshman which I think is really remarkable to see. She’s been really instrumental in keeping up that fire that we need to compete within every match.”

Kaplan’s only singles loss to this point is to Indiana’s Alexandra Staiculesc. Despite the loss, she credited her chemistry with her team as being beneficial to her individual performance.

“I love my teammates and they’re all like my sisters,” Kaplan said. “I’ll literally do anything for them, and I just want to win and leave it all out on the court for them. I truly want to fight for them every single day.”

Kaplan’s singles match was also her fourth contest in two days. In the Bethany Moore Invite last fall, she played six matches in two days.

“I came to play college tennis to be challenged,” Kaplan said. “I think that [last fall] was a really good learning lesson for me, because I wasn’t completely in tune with my body and had a different mindset than I do now. It definitely made me concentrate more on how I’m treating my body and getting treatment.”

Saturday’s win for Ball State marked its second win in less than 24 hours, coming off of a 6-1 victory over Northern Kentucky Friday.

“We have a long-term perspective, and we’re talking about digging in and being the best competitors we can be on the second day for back-to-back matches,” Kelley said.

Ball State will be in action twice over Spring Break. The team will travel to face the University of California, San Diego and University of California, Riverside March 4-5.

Contact Evan Weaver with comments at erweaver@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @evan_weaver7.

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