News and notes from Ball State's 26-20 loss at Northern Illinois on Thursday night.
As the top finisher for Ball State University in her four races this year, redshirt junior Ali Bishel carried the cross country team on her back. Saturday, Bishel will again be asked to deliver as the lone representative for her team in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional hosted by Indiana University.
The season opener for the Cardinals didn't go as planned. While Michigan's Krista Phillips was held to only six points on six shots, it was the supporting cast that stepped up and provided the lift to give the Wolverines a convincing 20 point victory, 87-67.
The Cardinals open their season on the road with a 7 p.m. matchup tonight against the University of Michigan.
The Cardinals (1-0) were led by six players in double digits, including sophomore Jarrod Jones' 19 points.
Starting his first game as a Cardinal, Jauwan Scaife, a Muncie Central High School product, scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range in Ball State's 88-78 season-opening win over Valparaiso Friday night at Worthen Arena.
In the first set, the Cardinals faced an early hole when they found themselves down 17-12. But Ball State was eventually able to even the score at 22 and win the set 25-23, finishing the game on a 13-6 run. Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Brandl recorded seven kills in the first set, setting the tone for the Cardinals (13-15, 6-9 Mid-American Conference).
Ball State effectively limited the best rushing attack in the Mid-American Conference, holding Northern Illinois to 155 yards. But they weren't able to contain the balanced attack after Huskies' quarterback Chandler Harnish entered the game in the second half.
Ball State utilized a balanced offensive attack that saw increased success as the match went on. The Cardinals had a .184 attack percentage in the first set, a .227 percentage in the second set and a .317 rate in the third.
The Cardinals (13-15, 6-9 MAC) were led on offense by sophomore Kelsey Brandl's match-high 14 kills. Junior outside hitter Hannah Sullivan had 13 kills, while senior Alisha Green added 12 kills in her final regular season home match.Defensively for Ball State, junior libero Alyssa Rio had a match-best 23 digs.
The Cardinals, who finished 14-17 (7-9 MAC) last season, have history on their side for Friday night's game against the Crusaders.Ball State owns a 39-9 (.813) all-time record in home openers held in Muncie, including last season's 72-59 win over Eastern Illinois University to open the 2008-09 campaign.
Emotions will be high with it being the final regular season, and potentially the final home match, for seniors Alisha Green, Julie Breivogel and Elania Kakatolis, which could make for high-error volleyball, which is not something the Cardinals can afford to let happen.
Men's basketball beat reporter Andrew Walker breaks down the matchups for Ball State's season opener Friday at home against in-state opponent Valparaiso
After winning its first MAC title in school history last season, Ball State isn't even expected to finish first in their own division. Toledo was projected to finish first in the West Division, while Bowling Green — the perennial MAC favorites year in and year out — is again expected to win the East and the Tournament.
The 2008-09 Ball State University women's basketball season is one that nobody will soon forget. But moving on is exactly what the 2009-10 squad is hoping to accomplish as it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on the University of Michigan in its season opener.