Huber and Risi rotate the court for Cardinals in home victory over Northern Illinois

<p>Junior outside hitter Natalie Risi bumps a pass against Northern Illinois at Worthen Arena on Oct. 15. Risi, who played the previous eight weeks at libero, move to outside hitter for the match due to graduate student outside hitter Emily Hollowell’s absence. The Cardinals went on to sweep the Huskies to extend their win streak to six matches. <em><strong>Jacy Bradley, DN</strong></em></p>

Junior outside hitter Natalie Risi bumps a pass against Northern Illinois at Worthen Arena on Oct. 15. Risi, who played the previous eight weeks at libero, move to outside hitter for the match due to graduate student outside hitter Emily Hollowell’s absence. The Cardinals went on to sweep the Huskies to extend their win streak to six matches. Jacy Bradley, DN

Ball State Women’s Volleyball (16-3, 6-1 MAC) swept Northern Illinois (9-9, 3-5 MAC) Friday evening by scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-17, respectively. The Cardinals utilized a different rotation from its normal lineup because graduate student outside hitter Emily Hollowell missed the match with a non-COVID related illness. 

Junior outside hitter Natalie Risi, who played in the libero position for the past eight matches, moved to outside hitter. Junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber wore the opposite colored libero jersey against Northern Illinois. 

“I was ready for it,” Huber said. “Everyone just stepped into their role today and did a good job.” 

Huber led the Cardinals with 17 digs, nine successful service receptions and one assist from the backcourt. Risi contributed seven kills, two assists and three blocks against the Huskies.

“We practiced it all week so I was a little prepared,” Risi said. “I wasn’t prepared to go do it today but we’ve been practicing it so it wasn’t like I just got thrown in.” 

Head Coach Kelli Miller Phillips said moving Risi into a new postion was not a difficult transition. 

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

“She trains that every day in practice, so it was nothing new to our team,” Phillips said. “[It] might have been new to Northern [Illinois] because they haven’t seen that on film in a while, but that was something that we train and are prepared for all the time.”

The victory marked the sixth consecutive win for the Cardinals, and extended their undefeated five-game winning streak at home. 

“Unbelievable fan base,” Phillips said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about a lot since we’ve been on the road. Counting tonight, seven out of our nine [upcoming matches] are at home. We wanted to use that homecourt advantage, soak it in, [and] use the fans behind us to our advantage and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”

Phillips said the Cardinals had a strong net presence against the Huskies in both kills and blocks. In blocks, junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem led with seven, while sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gilliland totaled five and junior middle blocker Marie Plitt finished with three. In kills, graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn had 17, Plitt smashed 10 and Mitchem had seven. 

“We executed at a high level,” Phillips said. “We played consistently to what I expected us to do. I think we had everybody that was really focused and locked in and we just executed our game plan.”   

The Cardinals remain at Worthen Arena for their next match against Northern Illinois Oct. 16. First set is 3 p.m.

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



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