Broncos Edged by Cardinals on the Road
MUNCIE, Ind. - The Western Michigan volleyball team made a hard push to take the lead in a road conference match, but Ball State was able to hold off the Broncos as the Cardinals took a 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-27, 14-25) decision from the Broncos at Worthen Arena on Friday. With the loss, the Broncos fall to 10-8 on the year, 3-2 in Mid-American Conference play.
Lena Oliver moved into fourth place on the MAC's career digs list, notching 15 digs to reach 2,260 for her career, while teammate Caroline Rose also topped double-digits with 12 digs. Rachel Sheffer had a team-high 12 kills, while sophomore Stephenee Yancy ripped 11 kills and head a team-best .273 on the evening. However, the Cardinals were able to hold the Broncos' offense in check, forcing them into a .171 hitting percentage and out-blocking them 11-8 as a team.
Things could not have gone better for the Broncos in the first set, though, as the hit .405 in the opening period to steal the first set from the Cardinals. WMU opened the set on a 4-1 run, with Sheffer capping the early rally with a kill to give the Broncos an edge. Ball State came back and at one point held a 15-13 lead in the set, but Sheffer tightened the gap with a kill and Gillian Asque tied the set at 15 with a kill of her own. The Broncos continued the assault with a kill from Alysia Baznik, and the Cardinals were forced into a timeout when Baznik and Ave Stout combined for a block to make it 17-15. The lead reached five points when Yancy and Lexie Pawlik blocked Kylee Baker to make it 24-19, and Yancy finished the set off with a kill of her own to make it 25-21.
The second set seemed to be going the Broncos' way as well, but the Cardinals took the momentum by making up a large deficit in the middle of the set to take the win. Sheffer and Stout broke an 11-11 tie with a block of Lauren Grant, a move that sparked a 4-0 run to give the Broncos a 14-11 lead. WMU led 19-14 at one point, but BSU out-paced the Broncos 11-4 down the stretch to take the set win.
The third set turned into a slugfest between the two teams, with neither team gaining much separation from the other until the very end. the Broncos led 22-21 when Stout and Baznik combined to block Hayley Benson, and a Ball State setting error gave WMU a 24-21 lead late in the set. The Cardinals answered and took a 26-25 lead, and ultimately took the set 27-25 on a Bronco attack error. Ball State closed out the match with a 25-14 win in the fourth set to take the win.