3 takeaways from Ball State’s sweep against Bowling Green

<p>Ball State junior Natalie Risi jumps to hit the ball on Oct. 29 at Worthen Arena. Risi led the Cardinals in kills with 12 on the night. Eli Houser, DN</p>

Ball State junior Natalie Risi jumps to hit the ball on Oct. 29 at Worthen Arena. Risi led the Cardinals in kills with 12 on the night. Eli Houser, DN

Ball State (21-3, 11-1 MAC) ended Bowling Green’s (15-7, 11-1 MAC) undefeated Mid-American Conference (MAC) streak Friday, sweeping the Falcons in three sets by scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 25-23 respectively.

The Cardinals sit in first place in the MAC with six matches remaining. Here are three takeaways from the match: 

MAC Championship location

As per MAC rules, the program with the best overall conference record at the end of the regular season hosts the MAC Championship. If the Cardinals win out the rest of the regular season, Ball State hosts the MAC Championship Nov. 21-24.

“That in itself I feel good about,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “We knew that was a big one when it comes to tiebreaking situations and all things considered, (I'm) glad we came out and played hard.”

Junior outside hitter Natalie Risi said the environment at Worthen Arena and the support from the Muncie community would be influential at the MAC Championship. 

“I think that’s really exciting for us,” junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber said. “We definitely were aware of that coming in and that probably pushed us a little bit more for this game. Being here for the MAC tournament with our fans and our family will make it a lot better.”

Ball State sophmore Lauren Gilliland and junior Natalie Mitchem jump to block the ball against Bowling Green on Oct. 29 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals swept Bowling Green 3-0. Eli Houser, DN

A versatile attack will be crucial when it comes to the postseason 

The Cardinals defense limited Bowling Green to 15 points in the first set. A versatile attack could be essential in the final stretch of the regular season and postseason. Five Ball State players hit seven or more kills against Bowling Green, with Risi leading the way with 12. 

“One of our strengths is that our bench is so deep and anybody can come in at any time and contribute offensively,” Risi said.

Risi, junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem, junior middle blocker Marie Plitt, sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gilliland and graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn combined for 44 kills against Bowling Green.

The focus is always on the next match

Despite the result, Phillips reiterated the Cardinals need to remain focused on the matches ahead.

“One day at a time,” Phillips said. “We’ve said that, we talked about being present and playing one day at a time. You don’t win a championship today, you don’t win a championship tomorrow, every day in practice you’ve got to win one and every match you’ve got to win one. It’s just taking it a day at a time and enjoying it.”

Ball State returns to action Oct. 30 against Miami Ohio (6-16, 4-8 MAC). First set is 6:30 p.m.

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

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