►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women's volleyball team opens the Mid-American Conference portion of its 2012 season Thursday, when it hosts Toledo in a 7 p.m. match which will be televised by the Ball State Sports Network (WIPB in Muncie) ... Saturday, Akron will visit Worthen Arena for a 7:30 p.m. first serve as part of BSU's Family Weekend festivities.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Thursday's match versus Toledo will be televised live locally on WIPB (Muncie Comcast Channel 2) by the Ball State Sports Network ... The BSSN feed will also be streamed live as part of Ball State All-Access (subscriptions starting as low as $9.95 a month) ... All-Access live video will also be available for Saturday's match versus Akron ... In addition, Ball State Sports Link Radio 91.3 WCRD will broadcast Thursday's match versus Toledo for FREE online at BallStateSports.com ... Live stats are also available for all of BSU's home matches.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: Ball State enters Thursday's contest with a 795-508-2 (.610) all-time record after posting a 3-0 record to claim the Ball State Tournament title last weekend ... BSU boasts a 56-19 (.747) mark under third-year head coach Steve Shondell.
►FROM THE NEST: After going 5-1 at home so far this season, Ball State owns a 213-58 (.786) all-time record in matches played in Worthen Arena, including a 157-31 (.835) mark versus Mid-American Conference teams ... Toledo is 1-19 (.050) all-time in matches played in Worthen Arena, while Akron owns a 1-13 (.071) mark in Ball State's current home gym.
►BALL STATE IN THE MAC: With a 3-1 victory at Ohio (Oct. 14, 2011), Ball State became just the second women's volleyball program in league history to collect 300 Mid-American Conference victories ... BSU ended the 2011 MAC season with a 306-149 (.673) all-time record in conference matches ... BSU's record is the second-best in league history, trailing only Western Michigan's 317-138 (.697) all-time league mark.
►VS. TOLEDO: Ball State holds a 57-5 advantage in the all-time series versus the Rockets which dates back to a 2-0 (15-3, 15-17) BSU victory Oct. 23, 1976 ... Ball State has won six of the last eight meetings in the series, including both matches last year ... From Nov. 11, 1987 through Oct. 2, 2008, the Cardinals won 42 consecutive matches over the Rockets ... Toledo picked up its lone win in Worthen Arena in 20 attempts by a score of 3-2 (25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 25-20, 18-16) on Nov. 6, 2008 to snap the Cardinals 42-match winning streak.
►VS. AKRON: Ball State has a 29-3 edge in the all-time series versus the Zips which dates back to a 3-1 (15-10, 10-15, 15-2, 15-4) BSU victory Oct. 11, 1986 ... Ball State has won 10 of the last 11 meetings in the series, including four consecutive wins ... Last season, BSU earned a 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-10, 25-14) victory in Akron Sept. 24 ... The Zips lone win in 14 matches at Worthen Arena came Nov. 9, 2008 by a score of 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-13).
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters Mid-American Conference play with a 7-6 overall record ... Last weekend, the Cardinals captured the Ball State Tournament title by posting wins over Pittsburgh (3-0), Wright State (3-0) and Wyoming (3-1) ... Kara Bates leads the Ball State attack and ranks second in the MAC with a 3.89 kills-per-set average, while Lisa Scott is second among BSU's starters at 2.29 ... Junior setter Jacqui Seidel has the BSU offense ranked second in the MAC with a .228 team hitting percentage, and has also collected assist/dig double-doubles in seven of BSU's 13 matches ... Catie Fredrich paces the BSU backcourt and the league with a 5.29 digs-per-set average ... As a team, Ball State is limiting its opponents to a .180 hitting mark which ranks BSU's defense third in the MAC.
►SCOUTING THE ROCKETS: Toledo enters MAC play with a 6-6 overall record ... Last week, the Rockets posted a 2-1 record at the Black & Gold Challenge, dropping the opener to tournament host Wake Forrest (0-3), before picking up wins over Appalachian State (3-0) and Campbell (3-0) ... Lauren Rafdal paces the Toledo attack with a 2.73 kills-per-set average, while Dakota Harkins is second at 2.45 ... Adria Pryor has set the Toledo offense to a .185 hitting mark this season, which ranks 10th among the 12 MAC teams ... McCall Paynter has a team-best 3.73 digs-per-set average to rank 10th in the league ... As a team, Toledo is allowing its opponents to hit for a .221 rate of success to rank 10th in the MAC.
►SCOUTING THE ZIPS: Akron enters MAC play with a 7-5 overall record and will host Buffalo Thursday prior to traveling to Muncie ... At last weekend's Bryant Invitational, Akron posted a 2-1 record with wins over Holy Cross (3-0) and tournament host Bryant (3-0), before falling to Northern Kentucky (1-3) ... Alex Conklin paces the Akron attack with a 3.35 kills-per-set average, while Tina Dimitrijevs is second at 3.19 ... Morgan Kuhn has set the Zips' offense to a MAC-leading .261 hitting mark ... Jill Paluch anchors the Akron backcourt with a 4.47 digs-per-set average to rank fourth in the conference ... As a team, the Zips' defense is allowing opponents to hit .217 which is ninth in the league.
►MVP: Senior outside hitter Kara Bates was named the Most Valuable Player of the Ball State Tournament after racking up a tournament-high 40 kills over BSU's three matches, while hitting .330 (40-11-88) ... She also turned in a solid defensive effort, ranking sixth among the tournament field with a 3.60 digs-per-set average, while posting a pair of kill/dig double-doubles ... For her efforts, she was also named the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week.
►HEAVY HITTING: Ball State's offense exploded for a .304 (158-45-372) team hitting mark last weekend ... The Cardinals opened with a .325 (48-10-117) hitting effort versus Pittsburgh and followed with a season-best .330 (52-14-115) mark against Wright State ... Leading the charge was junior middle hitter Mindy Marx with a .429 (25-4-49) attack percentage which paced all players in the Ball State Tournament ... Junior opposite Lauren Grant also had a solid effort, connecting for a .413 (31-5-63) rate of success, including a season-high 14 kills against Wyoming.
►FREDRICH ON D: A five-time career MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week selection, including this past week, junior defensive specialist Catie Fredrich has racked up double-digit digs in 12 of BSU's 13 matches this season, with 20-or-more digs five times ... Fredrich paced all players in the Ball State Tournament with 54 digs for a 5.40 digs-per-set average, including 22 win over Wyoming ... Overall, Fredrich has led the Cardinals in digs in 41 of the last 43 matches dating back to last season, while earning match-high honors in 31 of the contests.
►DIGGING DEEP: One of 14 players in program history to record over 1,000 career digs, Catie Fredrich enters the 2012 MAC season with 1,057 career digs ... Her 22-dig effort versus Wyoming (Sept. 15) marked the 14th time in her career she has posted 20-or-more digs in a match which ranks fifth in BSU annals ... Her 54 career matches with double-figure digs ranks eighth on BSU's career charts, while her 3.86 career digs-per-set average is fourth.
►2011 MAC WEST VS. EAST: Ball State went 6-0 versus teams from the MAC East Division in 2011 ... Including MAC Tournament play, the MAC West Division held a 32-6 advantage in interdivisional play last season, with only Ohio (3), Bowling Green (1), Kent State (1) and Miami (1) picking up wins out of their division ... Overall, the West Division had a 103-33 set record versus the East Division, including 21 sweeps in 38 matches played.