Ball State defeats Northern Kentucky in last non-conference match

Ball State took a narrow win in 5 sets against Northern Kentucky in Worthen Arena Sept. 18. Jacy Bradley, DN

Ball State Women’s Volleyball (10-2, 0-0 MAC) took on Northern Kentucky (4-5, 0-0 HORIZON) Friday evening, the second of two matches played this weekend. The match also marked the Cardinal’s last non-conference game before the Mid-American Conference schedule begins. 

“I think this weekend provided the unique challenge of playing the same team back-to-back, which is what we’re going to have to be able to prepare to do in the MAC season,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “It’s a little bit interesting, you have to learn from the night before but also start fresh and that is a different way of approaching matches."

The Cardinals went to five sets before defeating the Norse, splitting the first two sets 25-19 and 24-26 respectively. After losing set two, Ball State came from behind to take set three. Ball State dropped set four 25-21 before rallying to win the fifth set 15-13. 

“I think our energy just went way up,” junior defensive specialist Havyn Gates said about the comeback in set three. “Our bench was yelling on the court, we were actually in each other’s faces, yelling [and] jumping up and down. I think that’s a big part of the game, having energy." 

Graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn had the most kills for Ball State with 14, junior outside hitter Natalie Risi led in digs with 20 and freshman setter Megan Wielonski topped the team in assists with 41.

“We need to get back in the gym and fine-tune,” sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gilliland said. “Keep our expectations high, get in the gym and keep working hard."

Gilliland led the Cardinals in blocks, denying five of Northern Kentucky’s kill attempts. With the non-conference games over, the Cardinals are setting their sights on a MAC title among other season goals. 

“Oh, I mean, we want to win the MAC of course,” Gates said. “But [also] get better every day and have grit on every play. Some plays we just weren’t going like we usually do, but having grit, playing our best and playing for each other." 

Coach Phillips knows the type of competition that resides in the MAC but believes the Cardinals are going out to win the conference. 

“We’ve still got a ways to go,” Miller Phillips said. “We’ve got to get better and better every week. We’ve taken small steps, and we’ve got to continue to do that. The MAC season is a grind, it’s very competitive across the board… [but] that’s what we’re going out to [do]. To be MAC champions, to be able to compete for the tournament title as well.”

Ball State will be on the court again on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. where they will kick off their MAC campaign at Kent State.

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

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