►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team opens a 12-match road swing this weekend, when it travels to Laramie, Wyo., for the 2014 UniWyo Cowgirl Classic ... The Cardinals open the two-day event Friday with matches versus Montana (10 a.m. MT) and the host Cowgirls (7 p.m. MT) ... Ball State closes the tournament Saturday versus South Alabama (10 a.m. MT).
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: The Mountain West Network will stream Friday’s Ball State vs. Wyoming match live and free at www.themw.com ... In addition, live stats are available for all three of the Cardinals matches at the tournament on www.gowyo.com ... Fans can also follow the program on twitter @BallStateWVB and @BallStateSports.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State women’s volleyball team enters the UniWyo Cowgirl Classic with an 828-528-2 (.610) all-time record ... The Cardinals boast an 89-39 (.695) mark under fifth-year head coach Steve Shondell, including a 45-19 (.703) ledger in Mid-American Conference play.
►IN THE MAC: Ball State entered the 2014 season with a 330-165 (.667) all-time record in Mid-American Conference matches, which ranks second among all league schools ... Western Michigan is first with a 345-150 (.697) league mark.
►FROM THE NEST: Ball State opened the 2014 season by posting a 2-1 mark at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge, moving its all-time record in Worthen Arena to 226-67 (.771).
►VERSUS UNIWYO COWGIRL CLASSIC FIELD: Ball State is 2-1 all-time versus teams in the 2014 UniWyo Cowgirl Classic field ... The Cardinals won the only previous meeting versus Montana by a score of 3-0 Sept. 30, 1997 ... Ball State has split a pair of matches versus Wyoming, including a 3-1 home victory Sept. 15, 2012 ... The Cowgirls won the first meeting on their home court by a score of 3-0 Sept. 15, 1989 ... Ball State and South Alabama will be meeting for the first time in women’s volleyball.
● Ball State opened the season by going 2-1 at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge with wins over Western Illinois (3-0) and Northern Colorado (3-0) surrounding a loss to Eastern Illinois (3-1)
● Montana started the season 0-3 with losses to Cal Poly (3-1), Washington State (3-0) and Wyoming (3-0) at the Montana Invitational
● Wyoming enters the weekend at 4-0 after capturing the Montana Invitational title with wins over Washington State (3-0), Cal Poly (3-1) and Montana (3-0) ... The Cowgirls also picked up a win over Utah Valley (3-0) Monday
● South Alabama enters the weekend at 0-3 after suffering losses to Pepperdine (3-0), Oral Roberts (3-1) and Nevada (30) at the Asics Classic hosted by Pepperdine.
● With a 3-0 sweep of Western Illinois last Friday, Ball State improved to 22-21 all-time in season-opening matches, including a 10-8 mark in home openers and a 5-0 record under head coach Steve Shondell.
● Redshirt junior opposite Kelly Hopkins was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 Ball State Active Ankle Challenge after posting 3.30 kills per set and hitting .371 (33-10-62) over the two-day event.
● Hopkins blasted double-figure kills in all three matches of the tournament, including a career-high 13 versus Eastern Illinois (Aug. 30) ... Prior to last weekend, Hopkins had only collected double-digit kills in two of her previous 33 career matches.
● Redshirt junior middle hitter Hayley Benson enters the week ranked first in the MAC with a 1.70 blocks-per-set average ... The next closest player in the league is Kent State senior Liz Reikow at 1.25.
● The MAC’s top returning attacker based on 2013 hitting percentage (.353), Benson enters the week ranked ninth in the league by connecting at a .241 (24-10-58) clip so far this season.
● Junior Kati Vasalakis shined in the libero role last weekend, averaging 4.30 digs per set and posting a perfect 1.000 (37-for-37) reception percentage ... She collected a career-high 24 digs versus Eastern Illinois (Aug. 30).
● Redshirt junior outside hitter Alex Fuelling was named to the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge All-Tournament Team after averaging 2.70 kills and 3.20 digs per set over the event.
● Junior setter Jenna Spadafora also earned a spot on the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge All-Tournamen Team after averaging 9.20 assists and 1.10 blocks per set, while hitting .300 ... Spadafora enters the week as the only player in the league ranked in the top 10 in the conference statistics in blocks (fourth), assists (fifth) and hitting percentage (10th).
● While the Cardinals lost 19 years of starting experience due to the graduation of five seniors, Ball State returns eight letterwinners from 2013, including a pair of All-MAC First Team honorees in Hayley Benson and Alex Fuelling.