Cardona’s career match helps UE defeat CMU


Aces improve to 1-1 on the season 

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Junior Giulia Cardona recorded a career-high 28 kills on Saturday to lead the University of Evansville volleyball team to a come-from-behind victory over Central Michigan in five sets inside Houck Field House.

Cardona’s unbelievable effort saw her hit .311 while adding 10 digs, six service aces and two block assists.  Melanie Feliciano picked up 12 kills, eight digs and two blocks while Madisyn Steele tallied eight kills and a team-high six total blocks.  Freshman Luana Gazda Kuhn completed the victory with seven kills and nine digs.  Defensively, Ainoah Cruz had a match-high 15 digs.  Pacing the Chippewas was Devon Bright, who had 14 kills and seven digs.

Game 1 – UE 25, CMU 17

It was Central Michigan taking the early 3-1 lead before Evansville took control.  An 8-1 rally saw the Purple Aces take a 9-4 edge.  Luana Gazda Kuhn registered two kills to put UE in control.  The Chippewas battled back with four in a row to cut their deficit to 9-8 with the Aces quickly countering.  Maddie Hawkins registered an ace with Madisyn Steele notching a kill to push the lead back to five points at 14-9.

Already up 19-14, Kora Ruff followed with an ace to give her team a 6-point advantage.  Two more Steele kills and an ace by Giulia Cardona solidified a 25-17 win to give the Aces the early 1-0 match advantage.

Game 2 – CMU 26, UE 24

Another early start by the Chippewas gave them a 3-0 edge and their solid play continued with the lead going to seven points at 12-5.  Evansville slowly chipped away at the deficit with Cardona picking up a pair of kills to chop the lead to four points (14-10).

After CMU countered to establish an 18-12 advantage, the Aces had an answer of their own.  Utilizing a 7-1 stretch, UE stormed back to tie the game at 19-19.  The defense for Evansville forced four Central Michigan errors while Melanie Feliciano added a kill and ace.  Cardona added another kill that gave Evansville a 22-21 lead.  The squads battled to a 24-24 tie and CMU was able to post the final two points to knot the match at 1-1.

Game 3 – CMU 25, UE 20

For the third game in a row, Central Michigan had the upper hand at the start.  A pair of kills by Claire Ammeraal saw the Chippewas open a 7-3 edge.  After Evansville got within three at 13-10, CMU responded with four in a row to take their largest lead of the frame.  Despite cutting the deficit to three in the final moments, the Chippewas fended off the challenge, taking a 25-20 win to win their second set of the afternoon.

Game 4 – UE 26, CMU 24

Looking to finish the match, the Chippewas took the early 6-3 lead.  Ainoah Cruz picked up an ace with UE tying things up at 7-7 and a Cardona kill put UE in front, 10-9.  Tied up at 11-11, CMU posted three in a row before Evansville did the same, resulting in a 14-14 deadlock.

Over the ensuing stretch, Central Michigan continued to fend off the challenges and take multiple leads.  A solo block put CMU up 22-20 and they would later have match point, up 24-23.  Down to their final point, the Aces staged a clutch rally.  A kill from Cardona and another ace by Cruz resulted in a 26-24 UE win to force a fifth set.

Game 5 – UE 15, CMU 12

Central Michigan started on a 3-1 stretch, but it was Cardona continuing her career day with two kills and two more aces to put UE on top – 5-4.  After CMU rallied to tie the score at 8-8, Evansville put forth its most important stretch of the day.  Two kills apiece from Feliciano and Cardona comprised a 4-0 rally.  From there, UE held strong, taking a 15-12 decision to clinch the match.

Next up for the Aces is a home match against USI on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.