Ball State (21-3, 11-1 MAC) ended Bowling Green (15-7, 11-1 MAC) unbeaten streak at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) on Friday, sweeping the Falcons in three sets by scores of 25-15, 25-22 and 25-23 respectively.
The Cardinals occupy the top spot in the MAC with six games to go. Here are three takeaways from the game:
MAC Championship Venue
Under MAC rules, the program with the best overall conference record at the end of the regular season hosts the MAC Championship. If the Cardinals win the remainder of the regular season, Ball State will host the MAC Championship Nov. 21-24.
“That in itself is what makes me feel good,” said head coach Kelli Miller Phillips. “We knew it was important when it comes to tiebreaking situations and all things considered, (I’m) glad we came out and played hard.”
Junior away forward Natalie Risi said the environment at Worthen Arena and the support of the Muncie community will influence the MAC Championship.
“I think it’s really exciting for us,” said junior defensive specialist Maggie Huber. “We were definitely aware of that entry and it probably pushed us a bit more for this game. Being here for the MAC tournament with our fans and our family will make things a lot better. “
Versatile offense will be crucial when it comes to the playoffs
The Cardinals’ defense limited Bowling Green to 15 points in the first set. A versatile attack could be essential in the home stretch of the regular season and playoffs. Five Ball State players have had seven or more eliminations against Bowling Green, Risi leading with 12.
“One of our strengths is that our bench is so deep and anyone can come in at any time and contribute offensively,” said Risi.
Risi, junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem, junior center blocker Marie Plitt, second-year center blocker Lauren Gilliland and graduate student outside hitter Jaclyn Bulmahn combined for 44 kills against Bowling Green.
The focus is always on the next game
Despite the result, Phillips reiterated that the Cardinals need to stay focused on the games ahead.
“One day at a time,” Phillips said. “We said that, we talked about being there and playing one day at a time. You don’t win a championship today, you don’t win a championship tomorrow, every day in training you have to win one and every match you have to win one. It’s just taking it one day at a time and enjoying it.
Ball State returns to action Oct. 30 against Miami Ohio (6-16, 4-8 MAC). The first set is at 6.30 p.m.