Broncos Bounce Cardinals in MAC Quarters 3-1
GENEVA, Ohio - For the Western Michigan volleyball team, the third time was, in fact, the charm.
The sixth-seeded Broncos rallied back from a 1-0 match deficit against the third-seeded Ball State Cardinals, snapping a two-match losing streak against their Mid-American Conference West division foe and winning 3-1 (17-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-21) in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 MAC Tournament. With the win, the Broncos improve to 17-13 on the season; they will face the seventh-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 5 p.m. at the SPIRE Institute.
Lena Oliver had a match-high 27 digs and led a Bronco defensive effort that out-dug the Cardinals 78-66 and held their opponents to a .218 hitting percentage. Richelle Ranney posted a match-high 16 kills on 25 swings with just two errors for a terrific .560 hitting percentage, while Ave Stout added an attack line of 12-2-28 for a .357 hitting percentage. Stout also contributed a match-high eight blocks as the Broncos out-blocked the Cardinals 11.0 - 7.0. Alysia Baznik posted her 13th double-double of the season, recording 13 kills and 10 digs.
The Broncos dropped the first set to the Cardinals by a score of 25-17, but bounced back with a resilient effort in the second set to tie the overall match at one set apiece. WMU opened the set on a 6-2 run, scoring four straight to cap the rally and forcing the Cardinals into burning their first timeout. The Broncos kept the Cardinals at arms' length throughout most of the set, reaching 15 points first on a kill from Asque and later taking a 20-16 lead on a kill from Rachel Sheffer. The Cardinals tied the set at 24 when Baznik committed an attack error, but Stout snapped the tie with a kill on the slide play, and a BSU error on the next point gave WMU a 26-24 win.
Things were in full swing for the Broncos in the third set, as WMU hit .303 in the first period after the intermission and held the Cardinals to just a .132 mark. Baznik notched kills on back-to-back points to cap a 7-3 run for the Broncos to open the set, but the Cardinals battled back and took a 13-12 lead on a kill from Mindy Marx. The teams traded points until 17-17, with Stout factoring into two straight blocks to give the Broncos a 19-17 lead. Those points also featured the beginning of a 7-1 run for the Broncos, with Stout notching a kill to make it 24-18; she ripped the winning kill three points later to give the Broncos a 25-20 win.
The final set featured the Broncos rallying one more time for the win, as the Cardinals controlled the early portion and led 19-16 late in the set. Sheffer stopped what was a solid BSU rally with a kill, and Baznik tied the set at 19 two points later with a kill. Baznik recorded kills on the next two points as well to give WMU a 21-19 lead, and Ball State's Jenna Spadafora's attack error gave the Broncos a three-point advantage. Lauren Grant's attack error gave WMU match point, and Sheffer hit one through the block for the kill to seal the 3-1 win.