Eastern Michigan University volleyball fell to the Ball State University Cardinals in the teams’ 2013 Mid-American Conference opener Friday night at the Convocation Center. BSU’s tenth consecutive win came in straight sets over the Eagles (25-17, 25-17, 25-23).
It was the Eagles’ (10-6, 0-1 MAC) worst offensive game on the stat sheet as the team only landed 20 kills and had its lowest attack percentage this year of .047. They attacked .000 with 13 kills and 13 attack errors after the second set.
“[Tonight] was just a very disappointing performance in every facet of the game,” EMU head coach Kim Berrington said.
Despite winning seven of its last nine matches, Eastern has been swept in straight sets in two of the last four. EMU was swept in straight sets by then No. 14-ranked Michigan State University last Friday.
After having a ten-kill match against Duquesne University last Saturday, senior outside-hitter Erin Short had just one kill on 17 attacks. She stood tall on the defensive side of the net however, with five blocking assists.
“My play could have been a little better. I could’ve helped the team out a little bit more with kills,” Short said.
Senior middle blocker Mindy Marx led the march for coach Steve Shondell’s Cardinals (13-3, 1-0 MAC) as last week’s MAC West offensive player of the week put up 12 kills and an attack percentage of .688.
“She had a phenomenal match,” Shondell said. “The way she’s played the last couple of weeks, she can certainly have her name thrown in the ring [as a MAC player of the year candidate].”
Other contributors to the BSU offense were redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling who had 11 kills and 13.5 points and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson with 9 kills and a .278 attack percentage. The Cardinals, as a whole, had an attack percentage of .203.
BSU also did well protecting the floor, putting up 65 digs to EMU’s 36. Senior defensive specialist Catie Fredrich led the Cardinals with 22.
“Defensively I thought we did really well,” Shondell said. “We’re a good digging team.”
The Eagles were active on defense, distributing 19 blocks among the team.
The Cardinals started the match with four straight points, which soon became a 10-3 lead in the first set. On the next serve, a nice dig by Fredrich kept the play alive leading to an attack by EMU redshirt sophomore middle-blocker Kelsey Jones, which was blocked by Fuelling and Marx to give BSU an 11-3 lead.
The only time the Eagles strung together more than two points was when the team pulled within six later in the set. A ball handling error by Ball State senior setter Jacqui Seidel led to a service ace by EMU junior defensive specialist Natalie Folk and another BSU error to make it 19-13.
Seidel redeemed herself by displaying quick hands to save an EMU block and turning it into a BSU point with a kill by Benson.
An attack error by EMU senior outside-hitter Paige Roback sealed a first set win for the Cardinals.
After letting BSU take another early-set lead in the second set, EMU made a rally to take its first lead of the match. The Eagles took advantage of another BSU error: a service error by Fuelling.
Short and Jones shared a block and that was followed up by a service ace from Roback to give them the 8-7 lead.
The Cardinals regained the lead but allowed the Eagles to pull back within one after another ball handling error by Seidel made it 13-12.
BSU answered with six straight points to take a 19-12 lead, four of them off of EMU attack errors with two from Roback and sophomore outside-hitter Stacey Perinar each.
“Everything that we did was usually our errors, our little mistakes that we did,” Short said.
The Eagles went on a 9-2 run to start the third set, which was full of shared blocks between Short and junior middle blocker Meagan Crawshaw.
BSU would climb its way back to tie it at 14 when Fredrich served her first and only ace of the night.
The teams tied the score seven times in the last 21 points of the third set with three lead changes.
A service ace by BSU senior outside-hitter Kylee Baker gave the Cardinals a 21-20 lead that they would keep the rest of the set for a 25-23 win.