Game 17: Ball State (13-3; 3-1 MAC) at Akron (8-8; 2-2 MAC)
Game 18: Ball State (13-3; 3-1 MAC) at Buffalo (9-7; 2-2 MAC)
MUNCIE, Ind. – – The Ball State Women’s Volleyball Team returns to the road for a pair of games this weekend starting with a contest Friday (7 p.m.) in Akron. From there, the team travels to Buffalo for a showdown on Saturday (4 p.m.).
The Cardinals enter the week with a 3-1 record in the Mid-American Conference and are tied for second in the MAC West Division, behind West Michigan’s 5-0 mark in the league. BSU has won three straight games, which is the league’s third longest active winning streak behind WMU at six games and Bowling Green at five games.
Last weekend, Ball State opened the home portion of its championship schedule with a two-game sweep against MAC Eastern Division rival Ohio. Trailing 2-1 in Thursday’s opener, the Cardinals rallied to win the final two sets, including the 14-12 rally in fifth.
In Friday’s rematch, Ball State put in a dominating performance sweeping the Bobcats behind the strength of a .388 team attacking percentage.
Highlighting the Cardinals’ efforts in the series was the second midfielder Lauren Gilliland who led the BSU offense with 3.00 kills per set and an attack percentage of 0.615 (24-0-39), while pacing the defense with an average of 1.13 blocks per set. Gilliland finished both games without a single typo and returned to the top of the MAC standings with an attacking percentage of 0.375 (117-21-256) for the year.
Overall, the Cardinals have the MAC’s best record so far this season at 13-3 (.813). Western Michigan and Toledo are not far behind at 12-4 (0.750) each, while Bowling Green has the MAC East Division’s best overall record at 8-6 (0.571).
One of the keys to the Cardinals’ strong start to the season has been the team’s ability to spread their offense and keep opponents guessing with every stroke. Four different Ball State players enter the weekend averaging at least 2.26 kills per set, while six crush at least 1.57 kills per set.
Graduate transfer abroad Jaclyn Bulmahn leads the club with an average of 2.92 kills per set, while junior opposite Nathalie Mitchem is not far behind at 2.60. Third of the team, transfer of graduates away Emily hollowell to 2.34.
The BSU offense also connects with a better .257 clip this season, ahead of Western Michigan reaching .243 as a team. In fact, the Cardinals have reached 0.200 or more in 15 of their 16 games this season, most notably finishing last weekend’s two-game streak against Ohio with a 0.324 success rate.
Playing an important role in guiding the offense was the first-year passer Megan Wielonski who is fourth in the MAC with an average of 10.13 assists per set. In fact, Wielonski placed Ball State at 0.476 attacking percentage in the St. Thomas sweep (Aug. 27), which is the third-best single-game team performance in program history.
Second year defensive specialist Kate vinson leads the Ball State defense with an average of 3.45 digs per set. Junior Nathalie Risi, who started at libero for BSU in the last six games, is second for the squad with 2.90 digs per set.
At net, Gilliland leads the team and is ninth in the league at 0.95 blocks per set, while the junior midfielder Marie plitt is not far behind at 0.68.
As a team, the Cardinals limit their opponents to an attacking percentage of 0.213 and rank fifth in the MAC at 1.98 blocks per set and eighth in the league at 14.56 digs per set.
BALL STATE VOLLEYBALL QUICK HITS:
- In addition to leading the MAC and ranking 32nd nationally with a .257 team attack percentage, Ball State features the league’s top two forwards based on attack percentage… Sophomore middle Lauren Gilliland leads the conference and is 52nd nationally with 0.375, while the junior midfielder Marie plitt is second in the MAC and 77th nationally with 0.358.
- First year ferryman Megan Wielonski enters the weekend ranked 13th nationally with 628 assists in total, while his average of 10.13 assists per set is 60th… Wielonski is also posting big numbers in the backcourt with nine double assists / digs in the last 12 games … In fact, his 163 overall digs, including a career-high 21 at Wright State (Sept. 3), are third on the team, as is his 2.63 digs per set average .
- In addition to being one of the best passers in the MAC, a freshman Megan Wielonski also turned out to be his best server scoring first with 0.48 aces per set… In fact, Wielonski’s 30 aces serving, including a career-high seven against Ohio (September 30), are first in the league and rank ninth among all NCAAs. Nationwide Division I players.
- Graduate transfer Jaclyn Bulmahn made his presence felt in Ball State’s roster, leading the team with an average of 2.92 eliminations per set… Selected for the First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference in Valparaiso last season, Bulmahn hit double digits in 11 games so far this season, including a high of 19 kills in the Sept. 25 sweep at Kent State… The 19 kills are tied for most in a three-set game at MAC this season and are four off their career high 23 sets against Southern Illinois (Feb.14, 2021) in their spring 2021 season at Valpo.
- Jaclyn Bulmahn enters Friday’s game in Akron with 837 career wins, including 178 so far in his debut season at Ball State… His season record for one-season wins is 277, which established his year junior at Valpo, as she averaged a career-high 3.05 par wins for the Beacons last season.
- Junior in front Nathalie Mitchem got off to a good start in 2021, finishing second on the team with an average of 2.60 kills per set… State (September 3)… She also put in a big effort at the net, averaging 0.66 blocks per set, with at least one block in 15 matches.
- After being the team’s libero for the first three weeks of the season, the second-year defensive specialist Kate vinson anchors the Ball State defense and ranks ninth in the MAC with a total of 214 recoveries… She had double-digit recoveries in 11 of 16 games, including a career-high 29 against Marshall (September 4)… the third most great in a game in the MAC so far this season.
- Junior Nathalie Risi has moved from away to Libero over the past six years and is now second on the team with an average of 2.90 digs per set… a season 25 high in the September 24 game at Kent State.
- Ball State enters Friday’s game with an all-time record of 954-623-2 (.605) in women’s volleyball in its 50th season of play … Additionally, the Cardinals own an all-time record of 404- 212 (.656) in the middle – The American Conference game … The only program with a league-best score of all time is Western Michigan at 411-206 (.666) … Akron is ninth overall. time based on winning percentage at 188-303 (.383), while Buffalo is 12th at 90-298 (0.232).
- Ball State holds a 37-5 all-time series lead against Akron, including a pair of wins in the COVID-19 shortened spring 2020-21 season … The Cardinals and Zips opened the roster of spring with a pair of games in Muncie, with BSU sweeping the opener 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-12) on January 22 and winning 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25- 23, 25-19) the following evening… Akron’s last victory in the series was the last match played at Rhodes Arena, the Zips rallying in two sets to win the match 3-2 (21-25, 20- 25, 25-16, 25-22, 18-16)… Overall, the Cardinals are 16-4 in games played at Akron.
- Ball State holds an even better record against Buffalo, entering Saturday’s showdown with a 26-1 mark against the Bulls… The Cardinals have won the last 12 meetings between the two clubs, including a pair of sweeps in the spring. 2020-21 season… BSU scored a 3-0 victory (25-18, 25-14, 25-16) on January 28 and followed with another 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-15, 25-15) January 29… Buffalo’s only victory in the series came at home on October 9, 2010 by a score of 3-2 (28-26, 20-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15- 13)… Ball State is 11 -1 all-time in games played in Buffalo.