In a duel of the two winningest programs in Mid-American Conference (MAC) history, Ball State (17-6, 9-2) would set the tone early in its four-set win against Western Michigan (13-10, 5-6), holding the Broncos to a .174 hitting percentage through the first two sets.
Fourth-year opposite hitter Natalie Mitchem led the Cardinals on the offense end with a season-high 18 kills followed by first-year outside hitter Cait Snyder who added 12 of her own.
The Cardinals surged early against the Broncos with a 25-20 set one win and a 25-18 win in set two. The Broncos, however, would rebound in the third set (25-22) which saw Western Michigan's hitting percentage spike to a blistering .438.
“We had been so focused on Maggie King and then they really started getting a lot of other people,” head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “I felt like we were just too late to react defensively when they made those adjustments.”
Set four would see a complete 180 for the Cardinals who cut the Broncos’ hitting percentage back down to .167 to close out the game.
“I think it was just realizing that we had to fight through the fatigue and had to gain some mental toughness because we knew that Western wasn’t just going to lay down and give it to us,” Mitchem said. “We just had to really fight through, get tough, and get that fighting urge to win more than them.”
With this win the Cardinals are now tied with Bowling Green for the top spot in the MAC, extending their win streak to nine straight.
The Cardinals will head to Bowling Green, Ohio Oct. 28 in a battle of MAC division leaders.
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