Ball State's (25-3, 15-1 MAC) 3-1 victory against Eastern Michigan (9-17, 4-11 MAC) Nov. 23 was not a one-sided affair.
The Cardinals won the first set of the match 25-18 before dropping the second set 22-25.
“[In the huddle], it was the same as usual, we know our game plan,” junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber said. “We focus a lot on our side of the court and not really worrying about what the other team is doing, so I think we needed to reset between those sets and come out and execute our game plan.”
Ball State won set three 25-19, but it looked as though the match was destined to go to five sets as the Eagles led 18-10 in the fourth set.
“Towards the end of the match, we had to switch our defenses,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “Raven Chase, [Eastern Michigan middle blocker], we just could not get a stop on her. She was on fire and everything that she was swinging, it just seemed like it was finding the floor, so we made a little bit of a defensive adjustment to try to slow her down.”
Anchored by a career-high 20 kill performance from graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn, the Cardinals went on a 16-8 run to come back and win the fourth set.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know it and then I was looking at my phone in the locker room and then I saw it,” Bulmahn said. “It was a good win, Eastern is really tough, so it feels really good. [We] are working towards keeping that winning streak and being able to host the [MAC] tournament at home.”
Phillips praised Bulmahn after the match, saying she was the X-Factor of the fourth set.
“We just kind of rode on her back and kept setting the ball to her and she just had the hot hand tonight,” Phillips said. “She was somebody from the very beginning, I felt like had a good pop on the ball and was driving hard. It was no difference there in set four when we needed her, and she stepped up to the plate.”
Huber led Ball State in digs with 18, while freshman setter Megan Wielonski had 42 assists. Junior middle blocker Marie Plitt and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gilliland shared a team-high six blocks.
The win improves the Cardinals win streak to 15, tied third-longest in program history.
“It feels really great,” Huber said. “No one really knew that that was a record, but I think just chemistry that our team has, it just makes sense that we are doing so well this season.”
With two regular season matches left, Ball State is tied with Bowling Green in the bid to host the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, but Ball State holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the Falcons Oct. 29. If the Cardinals can win out, they will host the MAC Championship at Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals finish their series against the Eagles Nov. 13. First set is 2 p.m.