►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to the road this weekend for the Hawkeye Challenge hosted by Iowa ... In the two-day event, the Cardinals will play four matches in a little over 24 hours, starting Friday afternoon with a 2 p.m. (CT) first serve versus Western Illinois.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State fans can follow the action during the Hawkeye Challenge with live stats for all four matches at the tournament central link above ... In addition, Friday’s match versus Iowa will be streamed live by Student U on BTN.com or through the BTN2GO applications (Pay-Per-View) ... Fans can also keep up with the team on twitter @BallStateVB.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: After posting a 1-2 mark at last weekend’s Diet Coke Classic, the Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the Hawkeye Challenge with an 806-522-2 (.607) all-time record ... BSU boasts a 67-33 (.670) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 33-15 (.677) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: After last Wednesday’s 3-2 win over IPFW, the Cardinals 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 HAWKEYE CHALLENGE FIELD: The Cardinals are 10-15 all-time versus teams in this weekend’s Hawkeye Challenge ... Ball State holds a 6-3 edge over Western Illinois, including its 3-0 sweep of the Leathernecks last Saturday at the Diet Coke Classic ... Iowa holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, with both victories coming on its home court including a 3-0 win Sept. 15, 2007 ... The all-time series with Drake is tied at 1-1, with both prior meetings being played on neutral courts ... Drake won the latest matchup by a score of 3-2 on Aug. 29, 2008 ... While UIC holds a 9-2 edge in the all-time series, the Cardinals have won the last two meetings including a 3-0 neutral court victory Sept. 19, 1998 in the latest contest between the two programs.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the Hawkeye Challenge with a 4-3 record after going 2-2 last week ... Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks second in the MAC with a 3.92 kills-per-set average, while Hayley Benson ranks fourth in the conference with a .389 attack percentage ... Jacqui Seidel and Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .225 attacking mark which ranks fifth in the league ... In the backcourt, Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in all seven matches this season for an average of 4.00 digs per set ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held opponents to a combined .171 hitting mark.
►SCOUTING THIS WEEKEND’S OPPONENTS:
WESTERN ILLINOIS enters the Hawkeye Challenge with a 3-5 overall record after posting a 3-0 win over Chicago State Tuesday ... In the match, Samantha Fournier tallied 16 kills while the team as a whole connected for a .402 attack percentage ... Overall, Ann Miller leads the team with a 3.69 kills-per-set average ... As a team, the Leathernecks are hitting a combined .190 while its opponents are connecting at a .214 clip.
IOWA enters the Hawkeye Challenge with a 5-1 overall record after posting a 2-1 mark at last weekend’s Valparaiso Tournament ... At the event, the Hawkeyes picked up wins over Rhode Island and Eastern Michigan before falling to the host Crusaders ... Alex Lovell leads the Iowa attack with a 4.08 kills-per-set average ... The Hawkeyes are hitting .220 as a team, while holding opponents to a .168 rate of success.
DRAKE enters the Hawkeye Challenge with a 1-6 overall record after going 0-3 at last weekend’s West Des Moines Sheraton Drake Invitational ... The Bulldogs suffered losses to DePaul, Eastern Illinois and South Dakota State at the event ... Amanda Platte leads the squad with 79 kills, while Cassie Effken has a team-best 3.11 kills-per-set average ... As a team, Drake is hitting .167 while its opponents are hitting .217.
UIC enters the Hawkeye Challenge with a 3-4 overall record after going 2-1 at last weekend’s UIC Invitational ... The Flames scored wins over Marshall and Chicago State before falling to Denver at the event ... Kara Johnson leads the UIC attack with a 3.36 kills-per-set average, while the team as a whole is hitting .196 ... Opposing teams are hitting .236 against the Flames.
►ALL-TOURNAMENT AWARDS: So far this season, the Cardinals have racked up three all-tournament team awards ... At last weekend’s Diet Coke Classic, Mindy Marx took home all-tournament honors after averaging 2.44 kills and 0.78 blocks per set while hitting a team-best .298 ... At the USF Tournament both Hayley Benson and Alex Fuelling earned all-tournament honors after helping Ball State reach the championship match ... Benson averaged 3.20 kills per set over the event, while also racking up a MAC-best .517 attack percentage in the opening weekend ... Fuelling blasted 4.30 kills per set, which ranked second in the league over the first weekend, while adding 3.30 digs per set.
►BACK-TO-BACK: When Ball State takes the court versus Western Illinois Friday, it will mark the first time the Cardinals have played the same opponent in back-to-back matches since the 2009 season ... Ball State finished the 2009 regular season with a 3-2 win at Akron (Nov. 14) and then opened MAC Tournament play with a 3-0 home victory over the Zips (Nov. 17) ... The last time Ball State played a non-conference opponent in back-to-back matches was 1980 when the Cardinals suffered a pair of 3-1 setbacks to Indiana Oct. 4 and Oct. 10.
►IMPRESSIVE OPENING SET: Ball State’s 25-7 opening set victory over IPFW last 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 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.
►GOING FOR 20: With her career-high 24 kills in last 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 in the 25-point rally scoring era for the Cardinals, trailing only Kelsey Brandl’s 25 kills at Toledo (Oct. 7, 2010) ... 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 3.25 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 78 digs in seven matches.
►GOING FOR 2,000: Catie Fredrich enters the Hawkeye Challenge ranked fifth in program history with 1,486 career digs ... She needs just 167 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 514 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in all seven matches this season, also ranks fourth in career matches with double-digit digs (78), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.05) 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.