Phillips earns 100th win as Cardinals sweep Miami (Ohio)

Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem (13) hits the ball at Toledo at Worthen Arena Oct. 19. Mitchem had a season high of 21 kills against the Rockets. Jacy Bradley, DN
Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem (13) hits the ball at Toledo at Worthen Arena Oct. 19. Mitchem had a season high of 21 kills against the Rockets. Jacy Bradley, DN

Ball State Women’s Volleyball (22-3, 12-1 MAC) kept its undefeated home record intact Saturday against Miami (Ohio) (6-17, 4-9 MAC), sweeping the Redhawks with set scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 25-13 respectively. 

The victory improved Cardinals record to 9-0 at home and extended their win streak to 12. Sweeping Miami also earned head coach Kelli Miller Phillips her 100th career win as a head coach.

“Well, every win feels great, so that’s a good start,” Phillips said. “I honestly did not know that [was] where we are at. I just told those guys that I thank them. My staff, all the players, they’re the ones that are out there and earning them. Very grateful for every single one of those guys." 

Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem was instrumental in the victory, smashing 15 kills without an attacking error and finishing the match with a .714 hitting percentage.

“Right out the get-go she had the hot hand,” Phillips said. “Playing how Mitch is capable of playing. She wants to be a go-to attacker. She wants to be somebody that, when we need that kill, to get her the ball. She's proving time and time that she can be that person, and tonight [was] no different.”

Mitchem hit double-digit kills for the 15th time this season and said Ball State’s mentality helps push the players.

“I feel like it's just coming from the desire to win,” Mitchem said. “I feel like we're a very balanced team and that's helping us be able to conduct ourselves against these difficult teams.”

Junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber serving against Northern Illinois at Worthen Arena on Oct. 15. Huber was rotated in at libero for the match due to graduate student outside hitter Emily Hollowell’s absence. The Cardinals went on to beat the Huskies in three sets. Jacy Bradley, DN

Freshman setter Megan Wielonski topped the Cardinals in assists with 37, while junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber had a team-high 12 digs and junior middle blocker Marie Plitt led in blocks with five.

As the Cardinals move past the Redhawks, they have five more Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular-season games left to play. Wielonski said ending the season well is crucial. 

“These next five games are just as important as this past weekend has been,” Wielonski said. “Just keeping our mindset [how] we have been, just continuing to play us and be ourselves.” 

Toward the end of the match, freshman defensive specialist Kendall Seimet made her Cardinals debut, which Phillips felt was earned.

“Kendall has been so awesome in practice these last couple of weeks,” Phillips said. “I just felt like she earned the opportunity to get in there. She's been playing her heart out and she helps us so much in the practice gym to prepare us for matches like this. I felt like she earned the opportunity and I was glad to get her in there.”

The Cardinals return to Worthen Arena Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m against Central Michigan (10-14, 4-8 MAC).

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

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