Ball State Women’s Tennis (18-3, 7-1 MAC) continued its dominant ways Sunday by sweeping the Northern Illinois Huskies (12-14, 2-6 MAC) for the second time this year.
The scoreboard says that the Cardinals had no issues but assistant coach Rifanty Kahfiani explained that this was a much tougher one to get than the last time these teams matched up on March 31.
“I know the overall score was 7-0, but they really challenged us this time,” Kahfiani said. “Everyone was battling, and everyone had really good matches. It’s not an easy win. (I’m) really pleased everyone handled their business.”
The Cardinals started out strong in doubles, as the pairing of third-year Masha Polishchuk and fifth-year Allison Mulville won 6-1 on court two. On court three, fourth-years Jessica Braun and Emily Desai won 6-3.
Kahfiani noted that the execution on volleys and net play wasn’t spectacular, but the important part was that they were ready to be aggressive from the start of the match. That assertive mindset led to the players being able to “poach and have the confidence to make a play”.
Singles action was where Ball State saw the most pushback. In Second singles, fourth-year Amy Kaplan won 6-1, 6-3, while Polishchuk won 6-4, 6-2. On courts five and six, Mulville and second-year Elena Malykh had to grind out their matches. Mulville won both of her sets 6-4. Malykh cruised to a 6-0 first-set win but had to go an extra game to claim her second set by a score of 7-5.
There were two matches that went to a third set, and both of them saw Ball State drop the first set in a tiebreak. Fourth-year Emma Peeler and Braun had to fight back and go the distance to claim wins at third and fourth singles. For Braun, it was about being on the offensive, rather than the defensive.
“Starting off the second set, she started being more aggressive and stepping in (to the net) a lot more, and that helps a lot,” Kahfiani said.
Peeler won a close second set 6-4, and as the rest of the team started to descend on court three to watch her, Kahfiani said their energy helped push her through.
“What helped was everyone who wasn’t playing, supporting her,” Kahfiani said. “We feel like we’re all connected to one another, and Emma played better because she got the energy going.”
Ball State has continued to take care of business all year, but that doesn't mean they still can’t appreciate their performances like the one they had Sunday. The show continues to go on as the last weekend of the regular season approaches.
“It’s always special to win 7-0 on the road,” Kahfiani said, “Our focus is to get better every day. Even if it’s just one percent better, we’re getting better.”
The Cardinals will take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles Friday at 1 p.m.
Contact Caleb Zuver with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @zuves35