WVB top Green Bay in Saturday thriller

MUNCIE, Ind. — With their backs to the wall, Ball State’s women’s volleyball team made an unlikely comeback on Saturday night, defeating Green Bay in a five-set thriller to claim the Ball State tournament title.

Trailing 10-5 in the fifth set, the Cardinals (8-1) battled to even the score at 12, only to see the Phoenix (5-4) reach match point at 14-13. That’s when the real freshman outside Katie Egenolf came with perhaps the biggest kill of her young career, ripping a shot into the back corner to level the score at 14.

While Green Bay managed to secure one more chance to end the contest with a kill in the next rally, back-to-back errors set up a winning kill from the junior on the outside. Cait Snyder. The outburst helped BSU earn its 16th consecutive victory at Worthen Arena by a score of 3-2 (25-22, 12-25, 25-23, 17-25, 17-15).

“At the end, we tried to focus on what works, what will score points,” said the head coach. Kelli Miller Phillips said after the game. “We tried to keep things very simple and not solve everything at once. There were sets tonight where we weren’t playing very well at all, so in the end we really tried to concentrate. about what we did well and the ways we know we can score.”

What worked against the Phoenix, just like the other two games this weekend, was a heavy dose of tournament MVP Mary Plitt. Plitt led Ball State’s offense with 15 kills and added another solid hitting mark at .353. Overall, Plitt finished the tournament with a team-best 34 kills and a .484 rating (34-4-62).

“Marie was really the only thing we had on offense,” Phillips said. “In the fifth set we threw her up the left front to give her more opportunities to get the ball back. Green Bay are a great blocking team and forced us to keep trying different things offensively, but Marie was the only person who really found a way to score tonight.”

Along with adding the game-winning kill, Snyder finished the night second on the team with nine kills to also earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team.

Rounding out Ball State’s all-tournament selections was a second-year passer Megan Weilonski who collected his second straight double-double with 44 assists and 16 digs.

The Cardinals backcourt combined to finish the game with 87 team digs, led by the senior libero Maggie Huber 19. Senior Defensive Specialist Gates of Havyn added 12 digs, served the team’s top three aces and played the last two sets at the libero.

Rounding out Ball State’s double-digit diggers was a junior defensive specialist Kate Vinson with 11 at night. She also had a crucial service run in the fifth set, helping bring the Cardinals within one in a stint that included an ace of service.

As the Cardinals took the victory on the scoreboard, Green Bay held on to the advantage in almost every statistical category, including beating BSU .302 (80-20-199) to .200 (57-20-185 ) in the night.

Four players have managed double-digit wins for the Phoenix, led by a record 20 from Cora Behnke. For their play throughout the tournament, Alexandra Zakutney and Tiffany Paalman were named to Green Bay’s All-Tournament Team. The six-member team was rounded out by Alyiah Wells from Alabama.

Ball State’s women’s volleyball team will close its current four-game home game on Tuesday, with a 6 p.m. first serve against Dayton.

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