►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team opens its 2013 home slate Wednesday, when in-state rival IPFW travels down I-69 for a 7 p.m. first serve at Worthen Arena ... This weekend, the Cardinals travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for the Diet Coke Classic ... Ball State opens the two-day tournament Friday, with a 7:30 p.m. (CT) matchup versus tournament host and No. 4 Minnesota ... The Cardinals will play Duke (11 a.m. CT) and Western Illinois (5 p.m. CT) Saturday to close the tournament.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State Sports Link Radio WCRD 91.3 FM will begin its coverage of the 2013 Ball State women’s volleyball season Wednesday when IPFW visits Worthen Arena ... Rob Connent will handle the play-by-play duties for WCRD, while Drew Bogs and Andy Wright cover the color commentary ... Wednesday’s match will also be streamed live as part of the Ball State All Access package (with subscriptions starting at $9.95 a month) ... Live stats will also be available for the match.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: Following last weekend’s 2-1 effort at the USF Tournament, Ball State enters Wednesday’s match versus IPFW with an 804-520-2 (.607) all-time record in women’s volleyball ... BSU boasts a 65-31 (.677) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 33-15 (.677) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: The Cardinals enter Wednesday’s match versus IPFW with a 216-64 (.771) all-time record in matches played in Worthen Arena, including a 160-36 (.816) mark versus Mid-American Conference teams ... The Mastodons have never won in Worthen Arena, owning an 0-6 record in the building.
►IN THE MAC: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the 2013 season with a 318-161 (.664) all-time record in Mid-American Conference matches, which ranks second among all league schools ... Western Michigan is first with a 336-143 (.701) league mark ... All records have been updated to reflect the addition of the 1982 MAC regular season standings which the league found the official records for this past summer.
►VERSUS IPFW: Ball State holds a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series versus IPFW, including a 6-0 edge in matches played in Worthen Arena ... In the lone meeting last season, the Mastodons snapped a four-match losing streak to the Cardinals with a 3-1 (25-15, 29-27, 18-25, 25-21) victory in Fort Wayne ... Overall, BSU holds a 6-1 edge in matches played in Muncie.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the week with a 2-1 record ... At last weekend’s USF Invitational, the Cardinals swept both Austin Peay and The Citadel before suffering a hard-fought 3-2 setback to tournament host USF ... Ball State boasts one of the nation’s top offenses, averaging an astounding 16.09 kill per set ... Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks second in the MAC with a 4.30 average, while Hayley Benson is 10th in the league at 3.20 ... Jacqui Seidel set the Ball State offense to a .267 attack mark last weekend, which was the second-best opening weekend for a MAC squad trailing only Ohio’s .332 effort ... In the backcourt, Catie Fredrich tallied double-digit digs in all three matches for an average of 4.93 digs per set which ranks third in the MAC ... As a team, the Ball State defense held its opponents to a combined .183 hitting mark last weekend.
►SCOUTING THE MASTODONS: IPFW enters the week with a 3-0 record ... The Mastodons picked up the title to last weekend’s IPFW Hyatt Place Invitational by scoring wins over Duquesne (3-0), Southern Illinois (3-0) and Connecticut (3-1) ... Emily Spencer led the IPFW attack with a 5.30 kills per set average, while the team combined to average 14.60 kills per set ... Madison Spence set the Mastodons to a .302 hitting mark, while also serving up a team-best six aces ... In the backcourt, Jen Milligan averaged a team-best 4.80 digs per set ... As a team, the IPFW defense held its opponents to a combined .180 hitting mark last weekend.
►MORE ON THE OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: While it is still early, Ball State’s offensive numbers were highly impressive last weekend ... BSU’s 16.09 kills per set would currently rank as the fourth-best average in program history, the second-best in the rally scoring era and the best in the 25-point rally scoring error ... Ball State’s best kills per set average was 17.44 in 1999, while its best rally scoring average was 16.15 in 2001 ... The Cardinals’ best mark in the 25-point era is 13.89 in 2011.
►SERVING IT UP: Ball State showed a lot of promise from the service line this past weekend, with a MAC-best 20 service aces over its three matches ... BSU’s 1.82 aces-per-set average ranked third in the conference ... Kylee Baker served up a career-best five aces versus USF, while Alex Fuelling tallied five of her own over the three matches.
►BENSON STARTS STRONG: Redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson turned in a strong opening weekend for the Cardinals on the way to earning USF All-Tournament Team honors … After seeing limited time last season, Benson made the most of her starting role this past weekend racking up 32 kills and a .517 attack percentage, with just one attack error in 60 attempts over BSU’s three matches … Benson tied a career-high with 10 kills in the season-opening win over Austin Peay, only to better the mark with a 16-kill performance in the championship match versus USF … For the week, Benson averaged 3.20 kills and 0.80 blocks per set, while hitting .517 over her 10 sets of action … In 21 matches and 54 sets last season, Benson tallied just 65 kills (1.20) and 22 blocks (0.41), while hitting .155.
►GLAD TO BE BACK: After missing last season as a transfer, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling also made a major impact in the Ball State lineup this past weekend, racking up a team-best 43 kills for a 4.30 kills-per-set average to earn USF All-Tournament Team accolades … Fuelling opened the season with a career-high 16 kills in the sweep of Austin Peay, while tying the mark in the tournament championship match versus USF … In just two sets versus the Citadel, Fuelling racked up 11 kills and hit a career-best .733 (11-0-15) … Fuelling also made a huge impact in the backcourt by ranking second on the team in digs over the weekend with 33 for a 3.30 average … As a freshman at Morehead State in 2011, Fuelling averaged 1.44 kills and 0.57 digs per set, while only recording double-digit kills in two matches.
►GLAD TO BE BACK PART 2: After missing Ball State’s last 17 matches due to injury in 2012, Kylee Baker also posted strong numbers on the court by averaging 2.91 kills and 2.82 digs per set ... Her best match came versus USF when she tallied a career-high tying 18 kills and a season-best 16 digs.
►GOING FOR 2,000: Catie Fredrich enters the week ranked fifth in program history with 1440 career digs ... She needs just 213 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 560 more this season ... Fredrich, who collected double-digit digs in all three matches last weekend, also ranks fourth in career matches with double-digit digs (74), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.08) and fifth in career matches with 20-or-more digs (22).
►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.