►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team opens Mid-American Conference play this weekend with road matches at Eastern Michigan (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Central Michigan (Saturday, 7 p.m.).
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State fans can follow the Cardinals as they open MAC play with FREE live stats courtesy of both Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan ... In addition, live streaming video will be available for both matches, with EMU’s costing $6.95 and CMU’s $7.95 ... Links for all the live stats and live video can be found above ... Fans can also keep up with the program on twitter @BallStateVB.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: After picking up the CofC Holiday Inn Classic tournament title last weekend, the Ball State women’s volleyball team enters MAC play with an 814-522-2 (.609) all-time record ... BSU boasts a 75-33 (.694) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 33-15 (.677) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: With a 2-0 home record this season, the Cardinals own a 218-64 (.773) all-time record in matches played in Worthen Arena, including a 160-36 (.816) mark versus MAC 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 ... Central Michigan ranks seventh on the list with a 250-229 (.522) all-time MAC record, while Eastern Michigan is eighth at 215-264 (.449).
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Ball State concluded non-conference play with a 12-3 record, including nine consecutive wins ... Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks third in the MAC with a 3.83 kills-per-set average, while redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson ranks second in the conference with a .381 attack percentage ...Senior setter Jacqui Seidel and sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .248 attacking mark which ranks second in the league ... In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in 13 of BSU’s 15 matches this season for an average of 4.32 digs per set ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held opponents to a combined .143 hitting mark which ranks second in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS EASTERN MICHIGAN: The Cardinals hold a 47-23 lead in the all-time series versus EMU ... The teams split the 2012 regular season series with both squads winning on the road ... The Eagles scored a 3-1 (22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 26-24) win at Worthen Arena Oct. 6, while the Cardinals posted a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 30-28) victory at the Convocation Center Nov. 9 ... BSU is 17-14 all-time in matches played in Ypsilanti.
►SCOUTING EASTERN MICHIGAN: The Eagles enter MAC play with a 10-5 overall record after going 3-1 last weekend ... EMU scored a midweek sweep over IPFW, before going 2-1 at the MSU Tournament with a loss to No. 14 Michigan State (3-0) and wins over Cincinnati (3-0) and Duquesne (3-1) ... The Eagles have four attackers averaging over 2.10 kills per set, led by Stacey Perinar at 2.80 ... Alyssa Davis and Jill Briner have combined to set the EMU offense to a .208 rate of success, which has the Eagles ranked eighth in the MAC ... EMU leads the league in serving (1.79 aces per set) and digging (16.05 digs per set), while its opponents’ hitting percentage is third at .169.
►BALL STATE VERSUS CENTRAL MICHIGAN: The Cardinals hold a 38-30 lead in the all-time series versus CMU despite dropping a pair of hard-fought 3-2 battles to the Chippewas last season ... Central Michigan scored a 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-12) win at Worthen Arena Oct. 5 and a 3-2 (29-31, 25-23, 29-27, 24-26, 17-15) victory at McGuirk Arena Nov. 10 ... BSU is 16-13 all-time in matches played in Mount Pleasant.
►SCOUTING CENTRAL MICHIGAN: The Chippewas enter MAC play with a 6-6 overall record after posting a 2-1 mark at last weekend’s Georgia Southern Invitational ... CMU scored wins over Jackson State (3-0) and Charleston Southern (3-0), surrounding a loss to Georgia Southern (3-0) ... Kaitlyn McIntyre leads the Chippewas and ranks second in the MAC with a 3.95 kills-per-set average ... Kelly Maxwell has set the CMU offense to a .243 attack percentage which ranks the squad fourth in the MAC ... Defensively, the Chippewas have struggled, ranking 10th in the league in both opponents hitting percentage (.205) and digging (14.09 digs per set), while placing last in blocking (1.71 blocks per set).
►DISHING THE ROCK AT A RECORD PACE: Jacqui Seidel turn in one of the best matches of her career last Tuesday in setting the Cardinals to a 3-0 win over IUPUI ... Seidel’s 51 assists in the match were the most for a Ball State setter in a three-set contest in the rally scoring era, topping the previous mark of 46 set by Brittany McGinnis versus Murray State Sept. 3, 2011.
►SPEAKING OF RECORDS: Hayley Benson turned in the Cardinals’ second record-setting performance last week with a career-high 14 total blocks against SMU (Sept. 21) ... In helping Ball State post a season-high 17 total blocks in the four-set victory, Benson racked up career-highs of five solo blocks and nine block assists ... The 14 total blocks tie as the most for a Ball State player in the rally scoring era with Christine Kennedy’s effort versus IUPUI on Sept. 6, 2006.
►WEEKLY AWARD SWEEP: Ball State’s players swept the Mid-American Conference weekly awards Monday, with senior middle Mindy Marx earning MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week and Hayley Benson picking up MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week ... It marks the second straight week the Cardinals have received the defensive nod as Catie Fredrich picked up the honor Sept. 16.
►ALL-TOURNAMENT AWARDS: Ball State racked up nine awards during pre-conference tournament play, including a pair of MVP honors. Mindy Marx was named the MVP of the College of Charleston Classic last weekend, while Jacqui Seidel earned MVP honors at the Hawkeye Challenge ... Marx also took home all-tournament accolades from the Diet Coke Classic hosted by then-No. 4 Minnesota ... BSU’s other all-tournament honorees include: Catie Fredrich from the CofC Classic and Hawkeye Challenge; Hayley Benson from the CofC Classic and USF Tournament; senior outside hitter Kylee Baker at the Hawkeye Challenge and Alex Fuelling at the USF Tournament.
►HITTING HER MARX: During the team’s current nine-match winning streak, Mindy Marx is leading the Ball State offense with a .444 (85-17-153) attack percentage ... She has blasted double-digit kills in each of the last four matches, including a career-high 16 in the win over SMU (Sept. 21) ... Prior to the last four matches, Marx had never connected for double-digit kills in back-to-back matches in her career ... Marx’s 85 total kills over the last nine matches rank second on the squad, as do her 22 total blocks.
►GOING FOR 2,000: Catie Fredrich enters MAC play ranked fourth in program history with 1,615 career digs ... She needs just 37 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 385 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in 13 matches this season, also ranks fourth in program history in career matches with double-digit digs (84), career digs-per-set average (4.09) and career matches with 20-or-more digs (25).
►THE 20 KILL CLUB: With 20 kills in Ball State’s win over Iowa (Sept. 13), Alex Fuelling became just the fourth player in program history to smash 20-or-more kills in a match at least twice in the 25-point rally scoring era (2008-present) ... Kelsey Brandl (2009-11) accomplished the task five times over her career, including a BSU 25-point rally scoring era record 25 kills at Toledo (Oct. 7, 2010) ... Kara Bates (2011-12) and Julie Breivogel (2006-09) are the only other players to blast 20-or-more kills in a match twice since 2008.
►DOMINATING DEFENSE: During its current nine-match winning streak, the Ball State defense has limited opposing teams to a combined .117 attack percentage ... Over the span, the Cardinals are posting 2.42 blocks and 15.52 digs per set, which has helped limit opponents to 10.65 kills per set ... During the run, BSU has held five of its opponents below .100 hitting marks.
►DOMINATING OFFENSE: In contrast to its opponents, the Ball State offense is operating at a .275 rate of success over the past nine matches, while averaging 14.81 kills per set ... If those were season totals, the kills-per-set average would rank eighth nationally, while the attack percentage would be 25th ... As it stands, Ball State ranks 17th in kills (14.43) and 66th in hitting percentage (.248) for the season.
►MAC PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATION: Ball State was selected to finish fourth in the MAC West Division in the league’s annual preseason coaches poll 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 garnered two each.