Hammons Pounds 19 Kills to Lead BSU to a Sweep of Bowling Green in MAC Tourney

Updated 11/26/1999
MUNCIE, Ind. (November 26) -- Sophomore Megan Hammons became just the third player in Ball State University history to record at least 500 kills as she registered 19 and hit .378 to lead the Cardinals to 15-6, 15-6, 15-7 victory over Bowling Green in a semifinal match of the Mid-American Conference Tournament in BSU's University Arena.

The win improved Ball State's overall record to 27-6 and moved the Cardinals into Saturday's championship match in University Arena against Western Michigan. The Broncos advanced with a 15-6, 15-12, 15-12 win over Kent in the first semifinal of the evening. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for ages 2 through high school.

"We played a very complete match tonight," said BSU head coach Randy Litchfield, who saw his team improve its winning streak to 16 straight matches in Muncie. That ties the school record established when the 1994 and 1995 teams combined to win 16 in a row. "This was one of our steadiest matches of the year, and that's definitely what you are looking for come tourney time."

Aided by a pair of Amber Vorst kills and a kill by Lori Kemerer, Bowling Green raced out to a 4-0 lead in the opening game. Hammons began a BSU comeback, however, with a blistering kill. The Falcons then committed back-to-back attack errors to draw the Cardinals within a point. Ball State gave back a point with a hitting miscue, before another BGSU error allowed the Cardinals to trim the deficit to 5-4. Jenna Foster knotted the score with a kill before Susie Meshberger gave the Cardinals a lead they would never relinquish with a kill.

"We don't panic when we get behind early in games," Litchfield said. "You just try to hang on and sharpen your defense. I think that's what turned things around. We started playing much better defense."

Denise Van De Walle, Bowling Green's head coach, agreed. "I was very impressed with Ball State's defense. They seemed to get a hand on everything we threw at them in this match. They played very well. We played like all of the pressure was on our backs. We couldn't sustain any part of our game."

The Cardinals used the momentum for their opening contest win to build a 4-0 lead in Game 2. The Falcons cut the deficit in half on kills by Kemerer and Melissa Lewis, but the Cardinals scored seven of the next eight points and cruised to the win. It then became "Hammer"time as Hammons blasted 10 kills in the final game to lead Ball State to the win. Her final total of 19 kills improved her season effort to 511 to allow her to join Mindy Stanley (535 in 1995) and Stefanie Decker (515 in 1991) as the only players in school history to total at least 500 kills in a season.

"I've kind of been struggling with my offense lately," said the 6-foot sophomore. "But I worked very hard on my technique this week and it really paid off."

Julie Zylka added 10 kills and a .533 hitting percentage for the Cardinals, while Katie Butts had eight kills while hitting .727. Meshberger also totaled eight kills and tied BGSU's JoAnna Papageorgiou for match honors with four blocks. Butts paced Ball State's defense in the backcourt with 15 digs. Sophomore Jaime Stanley had 10.

Emily Sallee quarterbacked the BSU offense and totaled 43 assists. That improves her season total to 1,727, which is second in MAC history behind the 1,755 registered by Miami's Kathy Whalen in 1991.

Lewis led the Falcons with 12 kills and nine digs. Vorst finished the evening with six kills. Heather Greig had 30 assists.

"I don't know what it is about playing in this place," said Van De Walle, whose team finished its season with a 21-12 record. "We just haven't played well here, and that is very disappointing. I'm very happy with the turnaround we had this season, though."