Ball State Turns Away Toledo in MAC Opener, 3-0
MUNCIE, IN - Toledo rallied on several occasions in Thursday's Mid-American Conference opener at Ball State, but the Cardinals turned away each comeback bid to post a 3-0 (27-25, 25-16, 25-21) victory over the Rockets. BSU now has won four matches in a row to improve to 8-6 (1-0 MAC), while UT fell to 6-7 (0-1 MAC) with the defeat.
"We had some good individual efforts tonight but we needed to play better as a team to defeat a very good Ball State team tonight," Toledo Head Coach Greg Smith said. "We have a short turnaround before our match against Buffalo on Saturday, so our practice will be very important."
Junior OH Lauren Rafdal paced the Rocket attack with 10 kills, marking a team-high seventh time she has topped UT in that category this season.
Senior libero McCall Paynter led Toledo's defensive efforts in the back row with 15 digs, while sophomore MB Brooke Frazer and junior RSH Becca Reidy were the Rockets' top blockers with four rejections apiece.
Senior OH Kara Bates spearheaded the Cardinals' offense with a match-high 19 kills and an impressive .410 (19-3-39) attack percentage. She also collected nine digs, a solo block and an ace.
Toledo held a 10-2 advantage in the block department, but BSU outdug the Rockets by a 52-42 margin. The Cardinal defense limited the Toledo attack to a .126 (32-18-111) hitting mark for the night.
Ball State held a 16-10 edge midway through the first set, but the Rockets battled back to even the score at 18. The hosts then answered with a 5-1 run to reach set point at 24-19. However, UT wouldn't go away quietly, scoring five straight points to knot the score at 24-24. Following a Toledo service error and a kill from sophomore RSH Becca Reidy, Bates ended the set with two of her nine kills in the set.
The Rockets fell behind 5-1 early in Set 2 but battled back with a run to bring them back within one at 9-8. However, the Cardinals would score 11 of the next 14 points to pull ahead 20-11 and coast to the win.
Toledo opened the third set strong and didn't let the hosts gain an advantage until a four-point BSU spurt put the Rockets down 13-11. UT managed to tie the score at 15, but the Cardinals pulled away from there, winning the set 25-21 on Bates' 19th kill of the evening.
Toledo returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 22 when it hosts Buffalo. First serve is schedule for 3:00 p.m. in Savage Arena.