►THE WEEK AHEAD: After topping IPFW Wednesday, the Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to action Friday when it travels to Minneapolis, Minn., to open play in the Diet Coke Classic with a 7:30 p.m. (CT) first serve versus tournament host No. 4 Minnesota ... Saturday, the Cardinals close the two-day event with matches versus Duke (11 a.m. CT) and Western Illinois (5 p.m. CT).
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State fans can follow the action during the Diet Coke Classic with live stats for all three matches at the tournament central link above ... In addition, Friday’s match versus No. 4 Minnesota will be streamed live on Gopher All-Access (Pay-Per-View) ... Fans can also keep up with the team on twitter @BallStateVB.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: Thanks to its 3-2 win over IPFW Wednesday night, the Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the Diet Coke Classic with an 805-520-2 (.607) all-time record ... BSU boasts a 66-31 (.680) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 33-15 (.677) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: After Wednesday’s win over the Mastodons, the Cardinals now own a 217-64 (.772) all-time record in matches played in Worthen Arena, including a 160-36 (.816) mark versus Mid-American Conference teams
►IN THE MAC: The Ball State women’s volleyball team entered 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.
►BALL STATE VERSUS MINNESOTA: Ball State will be making its third trip all-time to Minnesota this weekend, with its last visit coming as part of the 2002 Minnesota Nike Classic (Sept. 13-14, 2002) ... Overall, Minnesota holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series with Ball State, sweeping both matches on its home court Dec. 1, 1993 (15-6, 15-11, 15-9) and Sept. 14, 2002 (30-17, 30-20, 30-25) ... The Cardinals did win the first-ever meeting by a score of 2-1 (15-9, 2-15, 15-12) in a neutral court matchup Dec. 13, 1973.
►BALL STATE VERSUS DUKE: The Blue Devils hold a 3-1 edge in the all-time series versus the Cardinals ... However, Ball State picked up a hard-fought 3-2 (15-10, 7-15, 12-15, 15-12, 15-11) win in the most recent meeting Sept. 18, 1999 at Worthen Arena ... Duke won the first three meetings all on its home court.
►BALL STATE VERSUS WESTERN ILLINOIS: The Cardinals hold a 5-3 edge in the all-time series versus the Leathernecks ... However, the two teams have not played since a 3-0 (15-2, 15-1, 15-9) Ball State victory in Worthen Arena Nov. 6, 1993 ... In fact, the teams have only played two times since the 1970’s, with WIU picking up a 3-2 (4-15, 15-10, 15-10, 5-15, 15-9) home win Sept. 14, 1990.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the Diet Coke Classic with a 3-1 record after Wednesday’s thrilling 3-2 home victory over IPFW ... Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks second in the MAC with a 4.47 kills-per-set average, while Hayley Benson leads the conference with a .480 attack percentage ... Jacqui Seidel and Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .263 attacking mark which ranks second in the league ... In the backcourt, Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in all four matches this season for an average of 4.19 digs per set which ranks eighth in the MAC ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held its opponents to a combined .157 hitting mark, including a .098 mark from IPFW Wednesday.
►SCOUTING THIS WEEKEND’S OPPONENTS:
MINNESOTA enters the weekend with a perfect 4-0 record and ranked fourth in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll ... The Golden Gophers swept their way through last weekend’s UAB/Samford Tourney with wins over Jacksonville State, UAB, Georgia State and Samford ... Tori Dixon paces the Minnesota attack with a 4.08 kills-per-set average, while the team is hitting a combined .339 ... Minnesota is limiting opponents to a .094 rate of success.
DUKE enters the weekend with a 2-1 record after posting a 2-1 record at last weekend’s Campus USA Credit Union Invitational ... The Blue Devils picked up sweeps over LIU Brooklyn and New Orleans before being swept by tournament host and No. 9 Florida ... Emily Sklar leads the Duke offense with a 4.17 kills-per-set average, while the team is hitting a combined .272 ... Opponents are only hitting .154 versus Duke.
WESTERN ILLINOIS enters the weekend with a 2-2 record after suffering a 3-2 setback at Northern Illinois Wednesday ... In the match, Samantha Fournier tallied a season-high 20 kills ... Overall, Ann Miller leads the team with a 4.24 kills-per-set average ... As a team, the Leathernecks are hitting a combined .200 while limiting opponents to a .151 attacking mark.
►IMPRESSIVE OPENING SET: Ball State’s 25-7 opening set victory over IPFW Wednesday was the second-most lopsided set win for the Cardinals in the 25-point rally scoring era ... The only better performance came Sept. 3, 2010 in the form of a 25-5 opening-set win over Tennessee State ... Ball State has won six sets by a score of 25-8, most recently in the opening set versus Gardner Webb Aug. 24, 2012.
►MORE ON THE BIG SET WIN: Ball State’s offense connected for a .480 (15-3-25) rate of success in Wednesday’s opening set versus IPFW, while limiting the Mastodons to two kills and a -.080 (2-4-25) attack percentage ... Senior Mindy Marx led the charge in the frame with seven kills and a .750 (7-1-8) hitting mark.
►GOING FOR 20: With her career-high 24 kills in Wednesday’s win over IPFW, Alex Fuelling became the first Ball State player to smash 20-or-more kills in a match this season and the first since Kara Bates tagged 24 at Northern Colorado Sept. 8, 2012 ... Fuelling’s 24 kills versus the Mastodons are the second-most in a match the 25-point rally scoring era for the Cardinals, trailing only Kelsey Brandl’s 25 kills at Toledo (Oct. 7, 2010) ... Overall, Fuelling is only the sixth BSU player to smash 20-or-more-kills in a match in the 25-point era.
►FUELLING DIGGING IT UP: In addition to her career-high 24 kills, Alex Fuelling collected a career-best 15 digs in the win over IPFW ... Fuelling has been one of BSU’s top defenders this season, ranking second on the team with a 3.20 digs-per-set average ... In 32 matches as a freshman at Morehead State, Fuelling only recorded 45 digs for a 0.57 per-set average ... So far this season, Fuelling has 48 digs in four matches.
►TWO MORE CAREER NOTES FROM IPFW: Starting with her seven kills in the first set, Mindy Marx finished Wednesday’s win over IPFW with a career-high 15 kills ... Kelly Hopkins added a career-best 11 kills in the contest.
►LEADING THE MAC: With seven more kills and a .333 (7-2-15) hitting mark, Hayley Benson continued her solid 2013 campaign Wednesday versus IPFW ... Benson leads the MAC with a .480 (39-3-75) attack percentage and ranks second on the squad with a 2.60 kills-per-set average ... In 21 matches last season, Benson tallied just 65 kills (1.20) and hit .155.
►GOING FOR 2,000: Catie Fredrich enters the Diet Coke Classic ranked fifth in program history with 1,453 career digs ... She needs just 200 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 547 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in all four matches this season, also ranks fourth in career matches with double-digit digs (75), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.06) 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 ... 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.