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Crucial call gives Miami victory over Ball State

A Miami volleyball loss looked likely after the Ball State Cardinals took a 17-16 lead in the fifth set. Apparently, the RedHawks didn't see things the same way.

Urged by her players, MU head coach Carolyn Condit challenged the ruling that a spike by freshman outside hitter Sophie Riemersma hit out-of-bounds. The officials reversed the call, giving Miami a 17-16 advantage, before senior middle hitter Courtney Simons put down the game-clinching point on the next play.

Simons' kill sealed a 3-2 RedHawks' victory.

"Sometimes, I go a lot off my players' verbal cues," Condit said about making the decision to challenge the play. "They truly thought there was a [BSU] touch. Some of us thought it could've been in. You're allowed to challenge for both of those things, and I did. We're fortunate to win one of them."

The game had Mid-American Conference standings implications as the Cardinals (16-6, 7-2 MAC) top the MAC West, while the RedHawks (16-5, 8-1 MAC) needed a win to remain tied with Bowling Green for the MAC East division lead.

"We've been working really really hard," Simons said. "Being a senior, we haven't lost on our court in a long time, and I definitely wasn't going to lose to Ball State."

Miami jumped ahead early, gaining a 7-4 advantage in the first set. With a slight deficit, Ball State's block settled in and allowed the Cardinals to keep things close, before spurring a 16-10 run to win the set 25-19.

After a disappointing first set, Miami stayed with the Cardinals in the second. The two teams traded leads eight times in the period. A kill by senior outside hitter Stela Kukoc gave the RedHawks a 25-23 set victory.

The back-and-forth action of the second set continued into the third. The two teams went to overtime, with BSU winning 30-28.

Powered by junior middle hitter Margaret Payne and junior outside hitter Taylor Daignault, Miami dominated the third set and won 25-18. Ball State managed only one lead (3-2) which was quickly erased by a 5-0 RedHawks run.

Tied at two sets apiece and needing to get to 15 points first to win, the teams seesawed once again, alternating leads seven times during the game-deciding fifth set. And once again, overtime was needed.

After Ball State knotted the score at 16, the Cardinals thought they had taken a 17-16 advantage on the Riemersma attack error. However, when Condit won the challenge, the call flipped to give Miami a 17-16 lead.

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That's when a Simons kill ended the set (18-16) and the match to give the RedHawks a 3-2 win.

With the victory, Miami extended its winning streak to six games, and snapped Ball State's six-game winning spurt.

The contest was a rivalry game in more ways than one for sophomore setter Morgan Seaman. While the Cardinals always present stiff competition for the RedHawks, Seaman faced the added element of playing against her older sister, Amber Seaman. Amber is a junior setter for Ball State.

"It was fun, but we've always had the sibling rivalry," Morgan said. "It was fun that we got to battle it out on the court. We each did really good things [today], and I think it was pretty even."

Morgan led the RedHawks with 30 assists and 17 digs, while Amber's 48 assists paced Ball State.

In her collegiate career, Morgan is 2-0 against Amber and the Cardinals.

Simons had a team-high 16 kills, while hitting a scorching .565 attack percentage. She won Player of the Match for the first time in her four seasons at Miami.

For the Cardinals, senior outside hitter Ellie Dunn finished with a game-high 20 kills and added 18 digs.