Middle attacker Jessie Manwaring almost couldn't have scripted the IPFW women's volleyball team's second game against Ball State any better if she had tried.
With IPFW facing a game point at 26-25 in the overtime, Manwaring connected on a kill to give the Mastodons the point and extend the game. Four points later IPFW had completed the comeback to win the second game and take a two-game lead in the match.
It was fitting that a senior like Manwaring would come up with the clutch kill in overtime for IPFW against its in-state rival.
After years of frustrating loses for the IPFW seniors against Ball State, the Mastodons finally defeated the Cardinals 25-15, 29-27, 18-25, 25-21 in non-conference play Tuesday at the Gates Center.
"We hadn't beaten Ball State in my college career.We knew this was our last chance, and we really wanted to beat them this year and show them," Manwaring said. "We're close, so we have a little rivalry with them."
IPFW's victory in front of a season-high 661 people in attendance marked the fourth time in program history that it defeated Ball State -- and the first time since 2007. The Mastodons entered this season on a four-match losing streak against the Cardinals.
IPFW coach Kelley Hartley Hutton said being able to beat Ball State is a significant victory for her program, especially given that Ball State reached the NCAA Tournament last season.
"They are a great program. We have the utmost respect for them," the coach said. "It's a very big win for our program."
IPFW (3-1) in the victory outhit Ball State .304 to .234, including opening the match with a .517 attack percentage in the first game.
The Mastodons also had four players finish the match with at least 10 kills.
Outside attacker Emily Spencer for the fourth consecutive match led IPFW in kills as she finished with a match-high 21 kills against Ball State (2-2). Outside attacker Haley Emenhiser had 12 kills, while Manwaring added 10 kills.
Freshman middle attacker Hailie Ripley also contributed with 11 kills and match-high seven blocks in the victory.
Hutton said IPFW being able to run a more balanced offense kept Ball State's blockers guessing throughout the match and prevented them from just focusing on shutting down one or two Mastodon players.
Ball State coach Steve Shondell said it was the best volleyball had ever seen IPFW play.
"I give credit to IPFW for playing an incredible match and not giving in when we put pressure on them as the match went on. They are destined to have a great year," Shondell said. "This is their year."
With this victory, the Mastodons conclude their season-opening homestand at 3-1 and beat their second straight Mid-American Conference opponent in non-conference play. IPFW swept Kent State on Saturday, winning two of the three games in overtime.
Hutton said learning how to play well in these close games like the overtime game against Ball State will be critical to the team's success for the rest of the season.
"Our team recognizes that there aren't many teams on our schedule that we are going to be able to roll over," she said. "So we have to composed and aggressive at the same time. Hopefully this gives us some confidence going forward."