Clemson, S.C. (December 3) -- Seventeenth ranked and undefeated Northern Iowa needed five
games to get past Ball State in first round action of the NCAA Volleyball
Championships at Clemson on Thursday night in Littlejohn Coliseum. The
Panthers won the match 12-15, 15-9, 10-15, 15-2, 15-12.
With the win Northern Iowa (29-0) awaits the winner of the Indiana-Clemson
match to be played later Thursday night. Northern Iowa and the winner of
that match will meet in the second round on Friday night at 7 p.m. Ball
State, the Mid American Conference champions, ended their season with a
record of 28-7.
Northern Iowa had four players who recorded double-figure kill totals.
Senior Holly VanHofwegen was one of those players with 14 kills and an
attack percentage of .313. Sophomore Kim McCaffrey had a match high 21
digs to go along with 12 kills. Freshman Kim Kester added 16 kills while
junior Alexandra Auker had 18 digs and 12 kills.
Junior Susie Meshberger led Ball State with a match-high 24 kills and an
attack percentage of .439. Junior setter Emily Sallee provided 61 assists
for the Cardinals, while freshman Jenna Foster had 19 digs.
Ball State took the first game, 15-12, behind the play of Meshberger who
had eight kills. Northern Iowa held the lead in the first game 5-4 before
Ball State took control of the game. The Cardinals scored five unanswered
points to go up 9-5. UNI closed the gap to 12-10 before the Cardinals took
the first game.
The momentum of the match swung Northern Iowa's way in the middle of game
two. With the score tied 5-5, the Panthers went on a nine to one run to
take a commanding 14-6 advantage. UNI eventually won the game by the score
Meshberger put away eight kills in game three as the Cardinals won 15-10.
Trailing 2-1 in game four, Northern Iowa scored 14 straight points to claim
the game 15-2. Eight of UNI's final 11 points in the game were recorded on
attack errors by the Cardinals. Kills by Kester and McCaffrey and a
service ace by Weber comprised the remaining three points.
Northern Iowa was able to maintain a relatively comfortable lead throughout
game five to win the match's final game 15-12.