“We had the best gameplan possible coming into the match and we just got beat by a really good team,” said Kelli Miller Phillips, Ball State Women’s Volleyball's head coach.
After 32 games, a regular season championship, an appearance in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament championship and an appearance in the NCAAtournament, it is over.
Ball State was swept in straight sets by the no. 4 seed in the Texas Quarter of the bracket, Marquette University.
Following the loss in the MAC championship to Bowling Green University, Philips believed the team still had a shot to make the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC).
Fourth-year middle blocker Marie Plitt and fourth-year libero Maggie Huber expressed disappointment in not reaching the NCAA tournament and were ready to begin the process of preparing the returning players for the next season.
However, another goal for the Cardinals season was accomplished when the team was announced as an at-large entry into the 2022 NCAA Tournament for just the third time in program history.
“It’s been a lot of fun to be here the last few days and have this opportunity in the NCAA tournament,” Plitt said.
Ball State (24-9, 15-3) entered Thursday’s first-round game against the Golden Eagles (27-3, 16-0) looking to pull the upset.
In the match, the Cardinals had some struggles on the offensive side of the net, with only two players, Plitt and third-year outside hitter Cait Snyder, tallying double-digit kills.
Third-year middle blocker Lauren Gilliland topped the solo block column for Ball State on defense with two.
A game-high 14 digs were accumulated by Huber and second-year/2022 MAC Setter of the Year Megan Wielonski had a team-high 28 assists.
Throughout the three sets, the Cardinals never surpassed a .296 hitting percentage and committed 12 errors.
Marquette will play the no. 5 seed in the Texas Quarter, Georgia Tech, Dec. 2. The Cardinals now look towards the 2023 campaign.
This marks the end for an accomplished senior class, composed of Huber, Plitt, outside hitter Natalie Risi, opposite Natalie Mitchem and opposite Allison Hamaker who have won two MAC championships (a regular season and tournament championship) and made three NCAA tournament appearances.
“All of our hard work has paid off,” Plitt said. “We want to keep the Ball State Volleyball tradition going and teach the other girls about the Ball State Volleyball culture.”