MUNCIE, Ind. - - With its sights set on reaching the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-2000, the Ball State women's volleyball team officially began its 2012 preseason practice schedule Wednesday morning at Worthen Arena.
Under the direction of third-year head coach Steve Shondell, the 2010 MAC Coach of the Year, the Cardinals return nine letterwinners from last season's squad, including three starters and the team's libero. BSU's 17-player roster is completed by three redshirt freshmen, four true freshmen and a senior transfer from Maryland.
Ball State finished the 2011 season with a 25-8 overall record, including a 12-4 mark in league play. BSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2002 season by earning an at-large bid into the 64-team event after finishing the regular season ranked 34th in the NCAA RPI rankings.
Highlighting BSU's list of returning student-athletes are a pair of First Team All-MAC honorees in senior outside hitter Kara Bates (Bradley, Ill./Bradley Bourbonnais Community) and junior defensive specialist Catie Fredrich (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Menomonee Falls).
Bates earned First Team All-MAC honors as a junior in 2011 after playing in all 33 matches and making 22 starts in her first season at BSU after transferring from Maryland. She posted a team-best 3.20 kills-per-set average and tied for first on the team with double-digit kills in 18 matches, including nine of BSU's last 12 contests. A member of the 2011 MAC All-Tournament Team, Bates scored five kill/dig double-doubles on the year and ranked second on the team with 13 solo blocks.Fredrich earned First Team All-MAC honors as a sophomore in 2011 after playing in all 33 matches and 122 sets as the Cardinals' libero. A four-time MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week in 2011, Fredrich collected 562 digs over the course of the season, which is the ninth-best single-season total in program history. She tallied double-figure digs in 32 matches, while leading the Cardinals in digs in 29 of the last 30 matches.