►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team closes out the home portion of its 2013 schedule Thursday, when it hosts Toledo at 7 p.m. in a battle of the top two teams in the Mid-American Conference West Division ... Saturday, the Cardinals start a three-match road swing with a 5 p.m. first serve at Akron.
►RALLY TO 1,000: The first 1,000 fans in attendance at Thursday’s women’s volleyball match versus Toledo will receive a FREE Ball State Athletics Rally Towel ... In addition, fans in attendance at Wednesday’s Ball State vs. Central Michigan football game can bring their ticket stub for FREE ADMISSION to Thursday’s match.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Ball State Sports Link Radio WCRD 91.3 FM will carry Thursday’s match 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 the match 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.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION PART 2: Live stats and live video will also be available for Saturday’s match at Akron at the links above.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters Thursday’s match versus Toledo with an 824-524-2 (.611) all-time record ... BSU boasts an 85-35 (.708) mark under fourth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 43-17 (.717) record in Mid-American Conference play.
►FROM THE NEST: The Cardinals are 8-1 in home matches this season and own a 224-65 (.775) all-time record in Worthen Arena, including a 166-37 (.818) mark versus MAC teams.
►IN THE MAC: Ball State enters the week with a 328-163 (.668) all-time record in MAC matches, which ranks second among all league schools ... Western Michigan is first with a 343-148 (.699) league mark ... Toledo is 11th with a 150-341 (.305) all-time MAC ledger, while Akron is ninth at 157-208 (.430).
►FIRST TO 20: With its 3-1 victory over Miami (Oct. 26), Ball State became the first MAC program to reach the 20-win mark this season ... With a 22-5 overall record, Ball State’s .815 winning percentage is currently tied for 24th in the country ... In addition, BSU is one of only 11 NCAA Division I programs to record at least 22 wins this season … Since MAC play began in 1982, Ball State has posted 20-or-more regular season wins 17 times, which is second in the MAC to Western Michigan (19).
►NCAA RPI RANKINGS: Based on the strength of its 22-5 overall record, Ball State is 45th in the latest NCAA Women’s Volleyball RPI Rankings which were released Monday (Nov. 4) ... Ball State is the second-highest program in the MAC, trailing only Ohio (42) ... Toledo enters the week ranked 102nd, while Akron is 264th among the 332 NCAA Division I programs.
►WHEN LEADING AFTER ONE: Ball State is 21-0 this season when winning the first set of a match ... Only No. 7 Missouri has a better record (26-0) when winning the first set this season.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling paces the squad and ranks third in the MAC with a 3.75 kills-per-set average, while redshirt sophomore middle Hayley Benson ranks second in the conference with a .366 attack percentage ... Senior setter Jacqui Seidel and sophomore setter Jenna Spadafora have combined to set the Ball State offense to a .242 attacking mark which ranks third in the league ... In the backcourt, senior libero Catie Fredrich has tallied double-digit digs in 25 of BSU’s 27 matches this season for an average of 4.75 digs per set, which ranks fifth in the league ... As a team, the Ball State defense has held opponents to a combined .149 hitting mark which ranks first in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS TOLEDO: Ball State holds a commanding 59-6 lead in the all-time series versus Toledo despite suffering a 3-1 (29-27, 25-21, 20-25, 25-19) setback to the Rockets in the first meeting this season ... The Cardinals hold a 28-2 advantage in matches played in Muncie, including a 20-1 mark in Worthen Arena ... Toledo’s lone victory in Worthen Arena came Nov. 6, 2008 by a score of 3-2 (25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 25-20, 18-16) and snapped a 42-match Ball State winning streak in the series.
►SCOUTING TOLEDO: The Rockets enter Thursday’s match with a 16-10 overall record and ranked second in the MAC West Division with a 9-3 league mark ... Last week, Toledo picked up home wins over Eastern Michigan (3-1) and Central Michigan (3-2) ... Lauren Rafdal leads the Rockets and ranks first in the MAC with a 4.01 kills-per-set average, while three other UT attackers are averaging between 2.04 and 2.33 kills per set ... Adria Pryor has set the Toledo offense to a .197 attack percentage which ranks the squad eighth in the MAC ... Ellen Hays paces the UT backcourt and ranks seventh in the MAC with a 4.55 digs-per-set average ... As a team, the Toledo defense is limiting opponents to a .211 attack percentage which ranks 10th in the MAC.
►BALL STATE VERSUS AKRON: The Cardinals hold a 30-3 advantage in the all-time series versus Akron, including five consecutive wins ... Last season, Ball State posted a 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 25-17, 25-16) victory at Akron, Sept. 22 ... The Cardinals are 14-2 all-time in matches played in Akron, and have not lost a road match in the series since Oct. 10, 2002.
►SCOUTING AKRON: The Zips enter the weekend with a 6-17 overall record and ranked sixth in the MAC East Division with an 0-12 league mark ... Last week, Akron suffered road losses at Ohio (3-0) and Kent State (3-2) ... Alex Cocklin leads the Zips attack with a 2.74 kills-per-set average, while Kelsey Wilson is second at 2.37 ... Karley Kusan and Ashley Holder have combined to set the Akron offense to a .156 rate of success, which has the Zips ranked last in the MAC ... Jill Paluch paces the Akron backcourt with a 4.28 digs-per-set average ... As a team, the Akron defense is allowing opponents to hit .228 which ranks last in the MAC.
►HOW SWEEP IT IS: For the second time this season, the Ball State women’s volleyball team has swept the Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week awards, with Catie Fredrich taking defensive honors and Hayley Benson earning the offensive nod ... Fredrich earns the division’s top defensive honor for the third time this season (Sept. 16 & Sept. 30) and the ninth time in her career, while Benson picks up her first career MAC offensive honor ... Benson was named the MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week earlier this season (Sept. 23).
►LAST WEEK FOR FREDRICH: Catie Fredrich led a dominating defensive effort as the Cardinals limited CMU and EMU to a combined .082 (59-39-243) attack percentage, trailed for only one point the entire weekend and did not allow either opponent to reach more than 19 points in a set ... Fredrich averaged 6.67 digs per set, while posting a perfect reception percentage by successfully passing all 23 serves she faced ... She collected 15 digs in Friday’s win over the Chippewas, while earning 25 in Saturday’s victory over the Eagles.
►LAST WEEK FOR BENSON: Hayley Benson recorded a .421 (17-1-38) attack percentage last weekend, while blasting 2.83 kills per set ... Benson, who posted just one attack error in 38 swings, record eight kills in the sweep of CMU and nine kills in the sweep of Eastern Michigan ... She hit above .400 in both matches, while also tallying five block assists on the weekend.
►BUILDING UPON HIS LEGEND: Already an AVCA Hall of Fame inductee before being named the head women’s volleyball coach at Ball State in 2010, Steve Shondell continues to build upon his legend while leading the Cardinals ... Under his guidance, Ball State has posted some of the best 27-match records in program history with the team’s 23-4 mark in 2010 tying as the best 27-match record and the team’s 22-5 marks in both 2011 and 2013 tying as the third-best.
►THE BALL STATE ATTACK: The Ball State offense enters the week ranked ninth in the nation with its 14.62 kills-per-set average ... Ball State’s 1,404 total kills (in 96 sets) are third in the country, trailing only Texas State (1,454 in 111 sets/13.10) and Radford (1,407 in 110 sets/12.79) ... Ball State also ranks fifth nationally with a 13.79 assists-per-set average.
►FILLING IN: With Ball State’s top two outside hitters out of the lineup due to injury the last two weeks, senior opposite Lauren Grant has stepped up to help take control of the offense, averaging a team-best 3.43 kills per set and hitting for a .288 rate of success to help the Cardinals maintain a spot atop the league standings … Grant, who has blasted double-digit kills in three of the last four matches, smashed a career-best 17 kills and struck for a .419 (17-4-31) attack percentage versus Bowling Green (Oct. 25).
►BACK IN FULL ACTION: Ball State’s lone active outside hitter the last two weekends, senior Kylee Baker has turned in three kill/dig double-doubles over the last four matches … Baker, who missed the last 17 matches last season due to injury and had seen limited time in the front row this season, is averaging 3.79 digs and 3.21 kills per set over the last four matches.
►MORE ON BAKER: Kylee Baker enters the week tied for 19th in program history with 803 career kills ... Baker could climb as high as 16th this weekend if she can blast 26 more kills to pass Sharon Knecht (809), Rachel Refenes (822) and Cassy Herode (828) ... Baker is also ninth in BSU’s record book with 2,634 career attack attempts ... On defense, Baker’s 963 career digs rank her 15th on Ball State’s career list and leave her 37 digs shy of becoming just the 15th player in program history to record 1,000 career digs.
►HITTING HER MARX: Over the past 21 matches, senior middle Mindy Marx has been one of Ball State’s top offensive players, leading the squad in attack percentage (.375) and ranking second in kills-per-set average (2.69) ... She has blasted double-digit kills in 10 of the last 16 matches, including a career-high 16 in wins over SMU (Sept. 21) and Miami (Oct. 26) ... Marx, who had never connected for double-digit kills in back-to-back matches in her career prior to this season, has logged 67 total blocks during the run which is second on the team.
►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 third-best effort, giving Marx two of the top three hitting marks in the league this season.
►GOING FOR 2,000: With her 25 digs in last Saturday’s win over Eastern Michigan, Catie Fredrich upped her career total to 1,842 which is third in program history ... Fredrich could become just the third player in program history to reach 2,000 career digs with 158 more this season ... Fredrich, who has collected double-digit digs in 25 matches this season, is also third in program history in career matches with double-digit digs (96), fourth in career digs-per-set average (4.21) and fourth in career matches with 20-or-more digs (30).
►DISHING THE ROCK: Jacqui Seidel enters the week ranked ninth in program history with 2,407 career assists ... Ball State’s active leader with 27 career assist/dig double-doubles, Seidel is also eighth in program history with a 7.67 career assists-per-set average ... Seidel dished out a season-high 60 assists in the win over Miami (Oct. 26), and has tallied 30-or-more assists in 16 matches this season.
►DISHING THE ROCK AT A RECORD PACE: Jacqui Seidel turned 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.
►THREE FOR 20-OR-MORE: In the Oct. 19 win at Ohio, three Ball State players finished the match with 20-or-more digs for just the third time in the rally scoring era ... Alex Fuelling tallied a career-best 23 digs, while senior outside hitter Kylee Baker fell one shy of her career high with 22 ... Catie Fredrich rounded out the group with 21 digs ... The last time Ball State had three-or-more players collect 20-or-more digs in a match was Sept. 30, 2003, in a five-set win over IPFW; Stephanie Keller (30), Sarah Obras (24) and Kelly Cochran (20) ... On Sept. 13, 2003, four players tallied 20-or-more digs in a five set loss vs. Robert Morris; Cochran (39), Keller (36), Obras (22) and Stacie Baldwin (20).
►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.
►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.