Ball State Women’s volleyball (24-3, 14-1 MAC) has always enjoyed the opportunity to play in front of its home fans at Worthen Arena — this season, it meant more than ever before.
“We love playing here,” junior middle blocker Marie Plitt said. “We love the crowd, we love the atmosphere, Worthen is our home.”
The Cardinals played their final regular-season home match of the 2021 season against Central Michigan (11-16, 5-10 MAC) Nov. 5, defeating the Chippewas in four sets by scores of 25-19, 19-25, 25-18 and 25-17 respectively.
The victory marked three milestones for Ball State: undefeated (11-0) at home in the regular season, first seed in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) with three matches to play and an NCAA leading 24th win.
“Our goal is to win them all,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “The mindset is that we can’t rush it to get there. It’s really tough to stay focused when you know you’re on a roll and when you just want to keep it going, but that’s the key to toughness and winning championships.”
Ball State’s offense was flowing against the Chippewas, with graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn leading with 16 kills. Junior outside hitter Natalie Risi totaled 14 kills, while junior middle blocker Marie Plitt tallied 13. Freshman setter Megan Wielonski dished out 56 assists against the Chippewas — two assists shy of her season-high 58.
“We’ve just got to play our game,” Bulmahn said. “When we do that, I feel like no one can stop us. We have great defense, great serve receive, great offense, all the key parts. If we just play our game [and] play how we can confidently, we will be good.”
Bulmahn’s thoughts on the Cardinals defense echoed on the court, as junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber, junior defensive specialist Havyn Gates and senior defensive specialist Cathryn Starck combined for 42 digs.
The final regular-season win at Worthen Arena also recognized the seniors after the match — Bulmahn, Starck and redshirt junior Esther Grussing were presented with framed jerseys in front of their home fans.
“They have brought so much to the team,” Plitt said. “Each and every one of them has brought something special and we’re going to miss them next year, but we still have some season to go and we’re excited for them to continue on their legacy. They’re going to leave a lot behind.”
Ball State travels to Ypsilanti, Michigan Nov. 12 to play Eastern Michigan. First set is 2 p.m.