►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to Worthen Arena this weekend for the 2013 Active Ankle Challenge, which features the Cardinals battling Western Michigan (Friday) and Northern Illinois (Saturday) ... Both matches start at 7 p.m., and fans will receive FREE ADMISSION to Friday’s contest versus WMU.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State Sports Link Radio WCRD 91.3 FM will carry both matches this weekend live over the airwaves and online at BallStateSports.com ... Rob Connett will handle the play-by-play duties for WCRD, while Drew Bogs and Andy Wright serve as color analysts ... In addition, video for both matches will 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 and fans can keep up with the program on twitter @BallStateVB.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters Friday’s match versus Western Michigan with an 817-523-2 (.610) all-time record ... BSU boasts a 78-34 (.696) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 36-16 (.692) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: With its sweep of Buffalo last Saturday, the Cardinals are 3-0 in home matches this season and own a 219-64 (.774) all-time record in Worthen Arena, including a 161-36 (.817) mark versus MAC teams … WMU is 6-16 (.273) all-time in the building, while Northern Illinois is 4-12 (.250).
►IN THE MAC: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the week with a 321-162 (.665) all-time record in Mid-American Conference matches, which ranks second among all league schools ... Western Michigan is first with a 339-144 (.702) league mark ... Northern Illinois enters the week ranked fourth in league annals with a 203-129 (.611) all-time MAC record.
►NCAA RPI RANKINGS: Based on the strength of its 15-4 overall record, the Ball State women’s volleyball team is ranked 59th in the first NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI Rankings which were released Monday (Oct. 7) ... Ball State is the second-highest program in the MAC, trailing only Ohio (30) ... Northern Illinois enters the weekend at 105th, while Western Michigan is 117th.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks second in the MAC with a 3.87 kills-per-set average, while redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson ranks third in the conference with a .378 attack percentage ...Senior setter Jacqui Seidel and sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .243 attacking mark which ranks third in the league ... In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in 17 of BSU’s 19 matches this season for an average of 4.65 digs per set, which ranks fifth in the league ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held opponents to a combined .141 hitting mark which ranks second in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS WESTERN MICHIGAN: The Broncos hold a 41-38 lead in the all-time series versus Ball State thanks to three consecutive wins ... Last season, WMU earned a 3-1 (25-11, 25-21, 20-25, 25-19) home win over the Cardinals Sept. 29, before picking up just their sixth all-time victory at Worthen Arena Nov. 2 with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-11) triumph ... Ball State holds a 21-14 lead in matches played in Muncie, including a 16-6 record in Worthen Arena.
►SCOUTING WESTERN MICHIGAN: The Broncos enter Friday’s match with a 10-7 overall record and tied with Ball State and Northern Illinois for first place in the MAC West Division with a 3-1 league mark ... Last weekend, WMU scored home wins over both Central Michigan (3-1) and Eastern Michigan (3-1) ... Stephenee Yancy leads the WMU attack with a 3.75 kills-per-set average, while Ave Stout owns a team-best .391 attack percentage ... Lexie Pawlik has set the Broncos offense to a .246 rate of success, which ranks WMU second in the MAC ... Lena Oliver paces the Western Michigan backcourt with a 4.73 digs-per-set average ... As a team, the WMU defense is limiting opponents to a .203 attack percentage which ranks sixth in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS NORTHERN ILLINOIS: The Huskies hold a 29-27 edge in the all-time series versus Ball State thanks to four consecutive wins ... Last season, NIU earned a 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17) home win Sept. 28, before sweeping the Cardinals at Worthen Arena Nov. 4 by a score of 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-21) ... Ball State’s last win in the series was a hard-fought 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 11-25, 25-23, 15-9) victory at Worthen Arena Sept. 30, 2011 ... Ball State holds a 14-7 lead in matches played in Muncie, including a 12-4 edge in Worthen Arena.
►SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS: The Huskies enter the week with an 11-7 overall record and tied with Ball State and Western Michigan for first place in the MAC West Division with a 3-1 league mark ... The Huskies play at Toledo Friday before comint to Muncie ... Last weekend, NIU scored home wins over Eastern Michigan (3-1) and Central Michigan (3-1) ... Mackenzie Roddy paces the squad with a 3.41 kills-per-set average, while Jenna Radtke has a team-best .305 attack percentage ... Alexis Gonzalez and Kayla Zeno have combined to set the NIU offense to a .196 attack mark which ranks eighth in the MAC ... Justine Schepler leads the Huskies backcourt with at 4.41 digs per set ... As a team, the Northern Illinois defense is limiting opponents to a .182 attack percentage which ranks fifth in the MAC.
►HITTING HER MARX: Over the past 13 matches, senior middle Mindy Marx has been one of Ball State’s top offensive players, leading the squad in attack percentage (.391) and ranking second in kills-per-set average (2.73) ... She has blasted double-digit kills in six of the last eight matches, including a career-high 16 in the win over SMU (Sept. 21) ... Marx, who had never connected for double-digit kills in back-to-back matches in her career prior to this season, also logged a career-best .688 (12-1-16) attack percentage in the win at Eastern Michigan (Sept. 27).
►GOING FOR 2,000: With her match-high 24 digs at Central Michigan (Sept. 28), Catie Fredrich climbed into third on Ball State’s career digs chart ... Fredrich, who enters the week with 1,693 career digs, could become just the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career digs with 307 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in 17 matches this season, also ranks fourth in program history in career matches with double-digit digs (88), career digs-per-set average (4.15) and career matches with 20-or-more digs (27).
►THE 20 KILL CLUB: With 20 kills in Ball State’s win at 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.
►DIGGING AND DISHING: Jacqui Seidel logged her seventh double-double of the season at Toledo (Oct. 3) with a career-high 21 digs and 40 assists ... Seidel paces Ball State’s active players with 25 career double-doubles, all of the assist/dig variety ... Over her career, Seidel averages 7.40 assists and 2.37 digs per set.
►MORE ON SEIDEL: Jacqui Seidel ranks ninth in program history with 2,117 career assists and is on pace to climb three more spots by the end of the year ... Her 7.40 career assist-per-set average is also ninth in the BSU record books.
►DOMINATING DEFENSE: Over the last 13 matches the Ball State defense has limited opposing teams to a combined .121 attack percentage ... Over the span, the Cardinals are posting 2.30 blocks and 16.39 digs per set, and limiting opponents to 10.70 kills per set ... BSU has held seven of its last 13 opponents below .100 hitting marks, including both Eastern Michigan (.047) and Central Michigan (.048) to open MAC play.
►DOMINATING OFFENSE: In contrast to its opponents, the Ball State offense is operating at a .259 rate of success over the past 13 matches, while averaging 14.89 kills per set ... If those were season totals, the kills-per-set average would rank sixth nationally, while the attack percentage would be 39th ... As it stands, Ball State ranks 12th in kills (14.56) and 66th in hitting percentage (.243) for the season.
►MORE ON THE OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: Ball State’s 14.56 kills-per-set average this season would rank as the ninth-best average in program history, the fifth-best in the rally scoring era (2001-Pres.) and the best in the 25-point rally scoring era (2008-Pres.) ... Ball State’s best kills-per-set average is 17.44 in 1999, while its best rally scoring average is 16.15 in 2001 ... The Cardinals’ best mark in the 25-point era is 13.89 in 2011.
►DISHING THE ROCK AT A RECORD PACE: Jacqui Seidel turn in one of the best matches of her career in setting the Cardinals to a 3-0 win over IUPUI (Sept. 17) ... 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 of the 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.
►THE EMU/CMU TRIP: The Sept. 27-28 road sweep of Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan marked just the third time the Cardinals have swept the EMU/CMU road weekend since the current MAC travel format was established in 2004 ... The Cardinals won the inaugural road weekend in 2004 by scores of 3-0 at CMU and 3-1 at EMU on their way to a MAC West Division title ... In 2010, Ball State used wins of 3-2 at EMU and 3-1 at CMU to help capture the MAC West Division and MAC Regular Season championships.
►THE STREAK: Ball State’s 11-straight wins, from Sept. 7 vs. Western Illinois through Sept. 28 at Central Michigan, was the longest winning streak under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell and tied as the 10th-longest in program history ... Prior to the streak, the last time BSU won 11-or-more consecutive matches was during the 2002 season when BSU posted 12-straight victories from Oct. 26–Nov. 30.
► FREDRICH DOES IT AGAIN: For the second time this season, and eighth time in her career, Catie Fredrich was named the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week after helping guide the Cardinals to wins at EMU and CMU Sept. 27-28 ... In helping Ball State post a 2-0 start to MAC play, Fredrich logged 7.67 digs per set and a perfect 1.000 (29-for-29) reception percentage ... Her effort in the back court also helped limit BSU’s opponents to a combined .047 (51-40-232) attack percentage ... Fredrich was also named the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 16.
► MAC AWARD SWEEP: For their efforts in guiding the Ball State women’s volleyball team to the CofC Holiday Inn Classic title, Mindy Marx was named the MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week and Hayley Benson was named the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 23 ... Marx picked up MAC weekly honors for the second time in her career as she was also named the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 19, 2011 ... Benson was a first-time MAC award winner.
►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.