Ball State Women's Volleyball (19-3, 9-1 MAC) swept Mid-American Conference (MAC) West Division rivals Western Michigan (14-7, 7-3 MAC), but Miller Phillips said the team continues to live by the ‘one match at a time’ mantra.
“The results will take care of themselves,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “You can’t put too much emphasis on looking ahead that far, just play it one at a time and enjoy it.”
The Cardinals won in three sets with scores of 25-21, 25-20 and 25-19. Ball State kept the pressure on the Broncos throughout.
“There was nothing that needed to be said motivationally,” Miller Phillips said. “These girls understand what we are playing for. Two top teams in the West going after it. I think they had themselves ready to play.”
Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem smashed 11 kills against Western Michigan, the fourth time the Illinois native has put up double-digit kills in the last six matches. Mitchem said that the flowing offense is giving the Cardinals assurance going forward.
“This is giving us more confidence going into the tougher opponents we are getting into,” Mitchem said. “Western was our second test [after Toledo] and I feel like Bowling Green will be our final test to see who is at the top of the MAC.”
Freshman setter Megan Wielonski had a team-high 30 kills while junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber and junior defensive specialist Havyn Gates combined for 27 digs out of the backcourt. The Cardinals had seven aces against the Broncos, Wielonski, who had two of the seven, leads the MAC in service aces.
“I think our team does a really good job with service pressure,” Wielonski said. “We focus a lot on that in practice. Just keeping the other team on their toes and just being aggressive at the service line definitely helps us.”
While Ball State will play Western Michigan Saturday, Friday's match put a one-win buffer between the Cardinals and the Broncos in the battle for MAC West Division dominance. Mitchem said that Ball State needs to play their game to continue performing well.
“A big part of our style of volleyball is pass and defense and serving,” Mitchem said. “I feel like if we keep succeeding in those areas we’ll continue to be successful.
The Cardinals will play their second of the two matches against the Broncos on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“It’s a long season,” Miller Phillips said. “We have just past the halfway point of the conference season, we understand there is still a lot of work to be done.”