Ball State's (8-1, 0-0 MAC) play shifted in between matches during its first day of the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament. After suffering their first loss of the season against Iowa State (5-1, 0-0 BIG 12), the Cardinals secured a victory against Iowa (0-6, 0-0 BIG TEN) Friday evening.
The Cardinals split their first two sets with the Cyclones, dropping the first 26-24. After winning the second 25-18, the Cardinals lost each of the next two sets (25-19, 25-13) to fall 3-1.
“I think our focus was just lacking,” sophomore defensive specialist Kate Vinson said. “We just tried to bounce back on each point."
Vinson led Ball State in digs against Iowa State (14), while freshman setter Megan Wielonski led the Cardinals in assists (40). Graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn scored the most kills (12).
“I definitely think we took that loss as a learning experience,” Wielonski said. “They’re a great team, a power five conference team, so, obviously, one of the best in the nation. We went out there, we had nothing to lose, we played with our passion and we played Ball State Volleyball. We know that we had to grow from that, and we took care of that in the Iowa game tonight.”
In its second match agaisnt Iowa, Ball State defeated the Hawkeyes in five sets. The Cardinals took the first two sets by scores of 29-27 and 25-15, respectively. Iowa tied the match up at 2-2 after consecutive wins (25-23, 25-18). In the final set, the Cardinals came out victorious with a 15-12 win.
“I think that’s par for the course when you’re playing high-level volleyball, and I think that’s what makes it fun,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “I don’t think it’s draining, I think that’s what we train for mentally and physically, for it to be [a] battle and [to have] two-point games back-to-back. I think that’s what makes playing tough teams and high competition fun, is knowing that you got to be locked in, and every point is important. It’s a fun match when you’re playing in that kind of physical battle. If anything, it’s just enjoyment. That’s why we get to play the game; is to play good teams, and to have those tough battles."
Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem finished with a team-high 15 kills for the Cardinals. For the second consecutive game, Wielonksi and Vinson led the team in digs and assists. Wielonski racked up 48 assists, while Vinson totaled 17 digs.
Ball State will take the court for its final game of the tournament Sept. 11 against Syracuse. The match begins at noon.