“She did not play like a freshman, she played like an experienced, veteran player,” Ball State head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said.
Freshman setter Megan Wielonski’s performance helped anchor Ball State's (2-0, 0-0 MAC) 3-1 victory over Green Bay (0-1, 0-0 Horizon) and 3-0 win against St. Thomas (0-1, 0-0 Summit).
The Cardinals fell short in their first set against Green Bay, losing 25-11. Over the next three sets, Ball State claimed victories of 25-20, 25-21 and 25-22.
“That was honestly a fluke for us, and that was not how we are capable of playing," Miller Phillips said. "I don’t think there was any panic button whatsoever, we just regrouped, and said, ‘Alright, we got to come back out and play Ball State volleyball.' Honestly, (we) didn't even look at it or talk about it again. That’s a credit to our team's mental toughness.”
After dispatching Green Bay, the Cardinals swept St. Thomas 3-0 (25-22, 25-10 and 25-13). In her first collegiate match, Wielonski played an integral part to Ball State's success.
“It wasn’t a surprise at all,” Miller Phillips said. “It was Megan being Megan, and she did a great job for her first day of collegiate volleyball.”
Wielonski led the Cardinals in assists in both matches, with 35 against Green Bay and 25 against St. Thomas.
“It’s awesome,” Wielonski said. ‘It’s quite a big change from high school and club [volleyball], but it’s such a great difference and it’s been great so far."
Phillips credited the Cardinals passing and solidity in the back for their win versus Green Bay.
“I thought our passers, specifically Kate Vinson and Natalie Risi, really helped us to stay settled and consistent,” Miller Phillips said. “They did a great job, because Green Bay had some unbelievable servers. I thought they [Green Bay] put great pace on the ball, and they [Vinson and Risi] did a really good job of staying the course [and] keeping us in system.”
Vinson, a sophomore defensive specialist/hitter, had 14 digs. Risi, a junior outside hitter, finished with nine digs.
“I think trust was just a really big factor today,” Vinson said. “I think we’re just excited to get back on the court, I mean every game is a new opportunity to keep playing. With COVID last season, we didn't know when we would have our next game. So I think this season, it’s really nice that we can count on those next games and keep playing.”
The Cardinals are back in action Aug. 28 at noon against Northern Iowa. It will be their third of four games in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as part of the Green Bay Tournament.