►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to the road this weekend to battle two of the Mid-American Conference East Division’s top teams starting Friday with a 7 p.m. showdown at Kent State ... Saturday, the Cardinals will take on defending MAC Regular Season Champion Ohio in another 7 p.m. first serve.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Live stats will be available for both matches this weekend at the links provided above ... In addition, Kent State will be offering FREE live video of Friday’s showdown ... Ball State volleyball fans can also keep up with the program on twitter @BallStateVB.
►DIG PINK: In an effort to help in the battle against breast cancer, the Ball State women’s volleyball team will host its annual “Dig Pink” match Oct. 26 when Miami visits Worthen Arena at 7 p.m. ... The Cardinals have teamed up with the Side-Out Foundation to take donations for the cause at: https://www.side-out.org/cb/campaigns/campaign/6905
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters Friday’s match at Kent State with an 819-523-2 (.610) all-time record ... BSU boasts an 80-34 (.702) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 38-16 (.704) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: With wins over Western Michigan and Northern Illinois last weekend, the Cardinals are 5-0 in home matches this season and own a 221-64 (.775) all-time record in Worthen Arena, including a 163-36 (.819) mark versus MAC teams.
►IN THE MAC: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the week with a 323-162 (.667) all-time record in Mid-American Conference matches, which ranks second among all league schools ... Western Michigan is first with a 339-146 (.699) league mark ... Kent State is 10th with a 170-315 (.351) all-time MAC record, while Ohio is sixth at 258-227 (.532).
►NCAA RPI RANKINGS: Based on the strength of its 17-4 overall record, Ball State is ranked 58th in the latest NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI Rankings which were released Monday (Oct. 14) ... Ball State is the second-highest program in the MAC, trailing only Ohio (42) ... Kent State enters the week at 206, which includes a win over Ohio last Thursday.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks second in the MAC with a 3.79 kills-per-set average, while redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson ranks third in the conference with a .357 attack percentage ...Senior setter Jacqui Seidel and sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .245 attacking mark which ranks third in the league ... In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in 19 of BSU’s 21 matches this season for an average of 4.64 digs per set, which ranks fourth in the league ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held opponents to a combined .142 hitting mark which ranks second in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS KENT STATE: The Cardinals hold a 37-11 advantage in the all-time series versus Kent State, including three straight wins ... In the lone meeting last season, Ball State posted a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) sweep of the Golden Flashes Oct. 12 at Worthen Arena ... In its last trip to Kent, BSU earned a 3-0 (25-15, 25-8, 25-15) win Oct. 15, 2011 ... Ball State is 14-6 all-time in matches played in Kent, Ohio.
►SCOUTING KENT STATE: The Golden Flashes enter Friday’s match with a 10-9 overall record and ranked third in the MAC East Division with a 4-2 league ledger ... Last week, KSU handed then-No. 18 Ohio its first league loss of the season with a 3-1 home win Thursday, before scoring a 3-1 victory at Central Michigan Saturday ... Kelly Hutchison leads the Kent State attack with a 3.01 kills-per-set average, while Bianca Cifaldi is a close second at 2.93 ... Aleksandra Nowak has set the Golden Flashes offense to a .208 rate of success, which ranks KSU seventh in the MAC ... Hannah Herc paces the Kent State backcourt with a 4.48 digs-per-set average ... As a team, the KSU defense is limiting opponents to a .208 attack percentage which ranks ninth in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS OHIO: The Cardinals hold a 33-16 lead in the all-time series despite suffering a pair of losses to the Bobcats last season ... Ohio, which has won 13 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams, scored a 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-12) win in the regular season (Oct. 13) and a 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-15) victory in the quarterfinals of the 2012 MAC Tournament (Nov. 16) ... Prior to Ohio’s recent run of success in the series, Ball State won 31 of the first 33 matches in the series ... The Cardinals also hold a 16-5 all-time advantage in matches played in Athens, including a 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 25-15) win in its last trip (Oct. 14, 2011).
►SCOUTING OHIO: The Bobcats enter the week with a 15-3 overall record and tied with Ball State and Bowling Green for first place in the MAC standings with a 5-1 league mark ... Ohio, which was ranked as high as 18th in the Oct. 7 AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, enters the week as the first team outside the top 25 after its 3-1 loss at Kent State last Thursday ... Ohio did rebound with a 3-1 win at Eastern Michigan last Saturday ... Kelly Lamberti paces the squad with a 3.32 kills-per-set average, while Alexis Pinson leads Ohio’s attackers with a .345 attack percentage ... Abby Gilleland has set the Bobcats offense to a .267 rate of success, which ranks Ohio first in the MAC ... Meredith Ashy paces the Bobcats backcourt with a 4.17 digs-per-set average ... As a team, the Ohio defense is limiting opponents to a .166 attack percentage which ranks third in the MAC.
►HITTING HER MARX: Over the past 15 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 seven of the last 10 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).
►MORE ON MARX: Mindy Marx’s career-high .688 (12-1-16) attack percentage at Eastern Michigan (Sept. 27) is the second-best hitting mark in the MAC this season for a player recording at least 12 kills in a match ... In addition, Marx’s .677 (16-2-21) effort against SMU is the fourth-best effort, giving Marx two of the top four hitting marks in the league this season.
►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 1,725 career digs, could become just the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career digs with 275 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in 19 matches this season, is also tied for third in program history in career matches with double-digit digs (90), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.16) and fourth in 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, who ranks ninth in program history with 2,172 career assists, 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 7.46 assists and 2.34 digs per set.
►FROM BEHIND THE LINE: Ball State enters Friday’s match at Kent State as the second-best serving team in the MAC with 107 aces for a 1.47 aces-per-set average ... Three Cardinals enter the week ranked in the top 10 in the MAC in serving, with Jacqui Seidel in second (0.37 aces per set), senior outside hitter Kylee Baker in third (0.34) and Alex Fuelling (0.30) tied for ninth ... Overall, Seidel’s 25 total aces pace the league.
►DEFENDING THE SERVE: Ball State’s defense against the serve is the best in the MAC, as the Cardinals are only getting aced 0.88 times a set ... Ball State has just 64 reception errors this season and is +43 in aces to reception errors ... Ohio is second in plus/minus at +35 (95 aces to 60 reception errors, while Kent State is last in the league at -17 (76 aces to 93 reception errors).
►DOMINATING DEFENSE: Over the last 15 matches, the Ball State defense has limited opponents to a combined .126 attack percentage ... Over the span, the Cardinals are posting 2.29 blocks and 16.06 digs per set, while limiting opponents to 10.80 kills per set ... BSU has held seven of its last 15 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 15 matches, while averaging 14.98 kills per set ... If those were season totals, the kills-per-set average would rank sixth nationally, while the attack percentage would be 34th ... As it stands, Ball State ranks ninth in kills (14.66) and 58th in hitting percentage (.245) for the season.
►MORE ON THE OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: Ball State’s 14.66 kills-per-set average this season would rank as the eighth-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.