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
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
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."