►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team opens its 42nd season of play Friday, when it battles Austin Peay at 4:30 p.m. in the opening day of the 2013 USF Tournament ... On Saturday, the Cardinals conclude the two-day event with matches versus The Citadel (11:30 a.m.) and tournament host USF (7 p.m.).
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Live stats for all three Ball State matches in the USF Tournament can be found on both BallStateSports.com and GoUSFBulls.com ... In addition, USF will offer streaming video (pay-per-view) of Saturday night’s showdown between the Cardinals and the Bulls.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: Ball State enters the 2013 season with an 802-519-2 (.607) all-time record over 41 seasons of play ... BSU boasts a 63-30 (.685) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 33-15 (.677) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►VERSUS USF TOURNAMENT FIELD: Ball State boasts a 5-0 all-time record against teams in the USF Tournament field ... The Cardinals won the only previous meeting versus Austin Peay by a score of 3-1 (8-15, 15-9, 15-9, 16-14) on Sept. 9, 1999 ... Ball State scored a 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-17) win over The Citadel in the only previous meeting Aug. 27, 2010 ... BSU owns a 3-0 advantage versus USF, including a hard-fought 3-2 (30-27, 34-36, 21-30, 30-23, 15-10) win the latest meeting Sept. 2, 2005.
►ROAD WARRIORS: After hosting a pair of pre-conference tournaments last season, the Ball State women’s volleyball team will be on the road for all four pre-Mid-American Conference weekends in 2013 ... In fact, Ball State will play just 10 of its 31 regular season matches at home this season ... The last time Ball State did not host a pre-conference tournament was in 2003 when the Cardinals played just nine regular season home matches ... However, the Cardinals did host the MAC Tournament in 2003, pushing its home match total to 12 by advancing to the semifinals.
►MAC PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATION: Ball State was selected to finish fourth in the Mid-American Conference West Division in the league’s annual preseason coaches’ poll which was released Aug. 28 ... Western Michigan is the favorite to win the division with five first place votes, followed by Northern Illinois (four first-place votes), Central Michigan (three first-place votes), BSU, Eastern Michigan and Toledo ... 2012 MAC Tournament Champion Bowling Green picked up seven first place votes to lead the MAC East, followed by Ohio (five first-place votes), Miami, Buffalo, Akron and Kent State ... Bowling Green and Ohio both received four votes to win the 2013 MAC Tournament, while Northern Illinois and Western Michigan each garnered a pair of votes.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State returns 10 letterwinner, including four starters and the team’s libero, from last season’s squad which posted a 14-17 (7-9 MAC) record ... Highlighting BSU’s list of returning student-athletes is a five-member senior class which includes 2011 First Team All-MAC honoree Catie Fredrich, Kylee Baker, Lauren Grant, Mindy Marx and Jacqui Seidel.
►SCOUTING THE LADY GOVS: Austin Peay returns 10 letterwinners, including four starters and the team’s libero, from last season’s squad which posted a 17-16 (10-8 Ohio Valley Conference) record ... In the OVC’s preseason poll, the Lady Govs were picked to finish second in the OVC’s West Division, picking up eight of a possible 24 first-place votes ... In addition, junior outside hitter Jada Stotts was named to the 14-member preseason All-OVC squad after ranking second in the league in kills last season.
►SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: The Citadel returns just six letterwinners, including three starters, from last season’s squad which posted a 6-28 (0-16 Southern Conference) record ... In the SoCon’s annual preseason poll, the Bulldogs were pick to finish last among the league’s 11 teams.
►SCOUTING THE BULLS: While USF returns just six letterwinners from last season’s squad which posted a 17-15 (7-8 American Athletic Conference) record, five of the returning players started for the squad in 2012 ... USF was picked to finish fifth in the 10-team AAC preseason coaches’ poll, with sophomore outside hitter Erin Fairs being one of six players unanimously selected to the 12-member All-AAC Preseason Team.
►GOING FOR 2,000: Catie Fredrich enters her senior year ranked fifth in program history with 1,386 career digs ... She needs just 267 more digs to climb into third in BSU’s record book and could become just the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career digs with 614 this season ... Fredrich, who collected double-digit digs in 29 of the 30 matches she played last season, also ranks fourth in career matches with double-digit digs (71), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.05) and fifth in career matches with 20-or-more digs (21).
►TOUGH 2012: With four of Ball State’s five seniors missing at least one match due to injury last season due, the 2013 season has some extra meaning for the group as they look to reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in their careers ... Kylee Baker returns after missing the final 17 matches of the season, while Lauren Grant was sidelined for the final six contests ... Jacqui Seidel missed both the Kent State and Ohio matches, while Catie Fredrich was also sidelined versus Ohio, which is the only match she has missed in her career.
►FAMILIAR FOE: After missing the 2012 season as a transfer from the OVC’s Morehead State, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling will get her first chance to take the court for the Cardinals Friday versus a familiar foe in Austin Peay ... Fuelling, who averaged 1.44 kills per set for MSU in 2011, played in two matches versus the Lady Govs as a freshman and racked up a 1.66 kills per set average in those matches.
►GETTING BACK IN THE SWING: Junior transfer Amanda Raker will be looking to play in her first volleyball match since high school at the USF Tournament ... Raker joins the Ball State squad after playing two seasons of basketball at Butler where she averaged 3.7 points and 18.8 minutes per game.
►FROM THE NEST: When Ball State hosts its first of 10 home matches this season versus IPFW (Sept. 4), the Cardinals will take a 216-64 (.771) all-time record in matches played in Worthen Arena into the contest ... The Mastodons are 0-6 all-time in Worthen Arena, including a 3-1 (25-20, 27-25, 19-25, 25-13) setback in their most recent trip to Muncie (Sept. 28, 2011) ... Ball State’s home dominance also including a 160-36 (.816) record versus Mid-American Conference teams.