By: Donnie Harmon
Ball State Sports Link
The Ball State women’s volleyball team was clicking on all cylinders in its 2021 home opener against Northern Kentucky on Friday, sweeping the match by a score of 25-19, 25-21, and 27-25. Behind the convincing win for the Cardinals was an impressive attack, as they connected at an excellent .299 hitting percentage as a team.
At the center of this offensive explosion were three offseason additions for the Cardinals. Ball State was paced by freshman setter Megan Wielonski, and massive contributions were made by graduate transfer outside hitters Jaclyn Bulmahn and Emily Hollowell.
Wielonski, who led her high school, Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati, to a state championship as a senior, was a consistent and versatile piece throughout the match. As the centerpiece of the offense, she dished out 42 of the team’s 45 assists in the game, displaying excellence in that aspect of the game.
She also made a big impact in other facets, as she contributed seven digs on defense to go along with three kills and two service aces on offense. She even assisted on a key block during the back-and-forth third set.
A player who made a big impact early in the match was Emily Hollowell. The grad transfer from Illinois, who entered this season with two years of eligibility remaining, had been playing her best volleyball of the season entering the match against Northern Kentucky.
That trend continued early against the Norse, as five of her nine kills on the night came in the first set. She helped set the tone for what would become a great offensive night for the Cardinals and was a big reason they were able to get an early advantage.
Perhaps the biggest newcomer performance was delivered by Jaclyn Bulmahn. The grad transfer from Valparaiso, who was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection last season, led the team in kills against Northern Kentucky with 12.
However, that number does not tell the entire story. She played her best in the decisive third set, contributing five kills and a block to complete the Cardinals’ sweep in thrilling fashion. Getting Bulmahn kill opportunities was clearly a point of emphasis for the Cardinals, as she was one of their go-to players down the stretch.
While many returning players from a season ago are also big keys for Ball State, it is impossible to deny the roster improvements coach Kelli Miller Phillips was able to make in the offseason. Thus far, they have bolstered the roster and helped the Cardinals find success this season.
Wielonski, Hollowell, Bulmahn, and the rest of the Cardinals will look to keep the ball rolling into conference play, as they face their first MAC opponent of the season on Friday when they travel to play Kent State.