After falling to Buffalo in the first and second sets (25-22, 25-18), Ball State rallied to win the third and fourth sets (25-19, 27-25) before losing in the fifth set (15-9).
This loss ends the Cardinals’ win streak of 10, handing them their first loss in Mid-American Conference (MAC) play.
Overall, the Cardinals record now stands at 12-9, with their MAC record dropping to 9-1. On the season, Ball State is now 4-4 when playing away from home.
The Cardinals two set comeback was created by a strong defensive performance out of Ball State's front and back lines. Facing a continuously aggressive Buffalo offensive via serves and kills (71-56), the Cardinals returned the shots, accumulating 60 digs.
The comeback fell flat in the fifth set when Buffalo came crawling back to take the match in their home arena.
“I felt like we were really never in our consistent rhythm,”head coach Kelli Miller Phillips said. “We were never in our complete flow, it took us some time to figure out some different schemes to try and slow down their two middles.”
Fifth-year libero Havyn Gates helped keep the Cardinals’ comeback hopes alive throughout the third and fourth sets facing a serve-heavy Buffalo. Overall, she had 14 digs. Gates was followed by junior libero Kendall Seimet who had 13 of her own.
Redshirt middle blocker Aniya Kennedy, over five sets accumulated two blocks, four digs, and 22 kills, just three shy of her career high.
Kennedy is followed by her teammate, graduate middle blocker Marie Plitt who had 13 kills, and sophomore opposite hitter Madison Buckley who had 14 kills.
Ultimately, Ball State lost this match at the service line after being out-served by Buffalo, having just two aces compared to their eight.
Miller Phillips says their Cardinals’ performance tonight is due to an inability to be consistent, something she is confident they will improve on.
“I don’t think that they did anything that we weren’t expecting them to do,” she said. “I felt like we just did not execute offensively on our side of the net as well as we needed to.”
Ball State will play Buffalo again tomorrow night at 4 p.m. when they face them for the last time this regular season. After their stint in Buffalo, the Cardinals return home next week Friday, Oct. 27th at 6 p.m. to play Kent State.
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