Cardinals get back in win column by sweeping Northern Kentucky in home opener

Freshman setter Megan Wielonski and junior middle blocker Marie Plitt celebrate a successful block by Wielonski against Northern Kentucky at Worthen Arena Sept. 17. Ball State had two challenges in the last set turned in its favor, one being the game-winning point. Jacy Bradley, DN
Freshman setter Megan Wielonski and junior middle blocker Marie Plitt celebrate a successful block by Wielonski against Northern Kentucky at Worthen Arena Sept. 17. Ball State had two challenges in the last set turned in its favor, one being the game-winning point. Jacy Bradley, DN

Ball State Women’s Volleyball (9-2, 0-0 MAC) swept Northern Kentucky (4-4, 0-0 HORIZON) by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 27-25 Friday evening. The match served as the Cardinals home opener, as well as the first time fans were allowed inside Worthen Arena at full capacity since since Nov. 16, 2019.

“It feels great to be home," sophomore defensive specialist/setter Kate Vinson said. “I think the atmosphere is just great with all the students and family able to come.”

Vinson led the Cardinals with 12 digs, while freshman setter Megan Wielonski had a team-high 41 assists from the backcourt. 

“I felt like our positivity was really good to each other,” Vinson said. “We supported each other and communicated about what was open. (We) just kept moving on and focusing on that next ball.”

Ball State finished with four players accumulating nine or more kills. Graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn led the Cardinals with 12, while junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem and junior middle blocker Marie Plitt each had 10. Graduate student outside hitter Emily Hollowell recorded nine. 

Junior opposite hitter Natalie Mitchem spikes the volleyball set to her by freshman Megan Wielonski against Northern Kentucky in Worthen Arena Sept. 17. Ball State took the win for its first home game of the 2021 season. Jacy Bradley, DN

“That’s exactly what we want,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “We want a balanced offense, we want to have every hitter consistently getting the ball. That’s a tribute to Megan running our offense well, and that’s our hitters putting themselves in positions to get the ball. They did a good job of that.”

As the third set winded down, the officiating crew overturned a call from Northern Kentucky, subsequently giving the Cardinals the victory. 

“The final point I thought was very clearly down,” Coach Phillips said. “No doubt about it. I can’t believe they didn’t call that originally, but that one I felt like there should have been enough angles to see that the ball was down.”

Bulhman felt a noticable difference between tonight's match and home matches from the 2020-21 season.

“It felt great to have fan support,” Bulmahn said. “Last year, it always just felt empty. It didn’t feel right. But this year is feeling a lot better.” 

Ball State returns to action against Northern Kentucky Sept.18 at 3 p.m. It will be the final match of the doubleheader.

Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at daniel.kehn@bsu.edu or on Twitter @kehn_daniel.

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