►THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State men's volleyball team steps out of league play for the next three matches starting Friday with a 7:30 p.m. first serve versus Conference Carolina member Mount Olive at Worthen Arena . . . Saturday, the Cardinals conclude a three-match home stand with a 7:30 p.m first serve versus Park from the Mid-America Men's Volleyball Intercollegiate Conference.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Live stats, live audio and live video will be available for both matches this week . . . WCRD 91.3 FM will also cover both contests live over the airwaves and online at BallStateSports.com with Tim Keane and C.J. Allard calling the action . . . Streaming video will be provided through Ball State All Access ($9.95 a month).
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: After posting a 1-1 record last week, the Ball State men's volleyball program enters Friday's match versus Mount Olive with a 1061-426-8 (.712) all-time record in 48-plus seasons of play . . . The program, which officially became a varsity sport at Ball State during the 1964 season, joins baseball and men's basketball as the only programs in school history to reach 1,000 wins . . . In addition, only one other NCAA Division I/II men's volleyball program has eclipsed 1,000 wins, with UCLA entering the weekend with an 1,231-284 all-time record over 49-plus years.
►250 AND COUNTING: Joel Walton, who is in his 14th season as BSU's head coach, picked up his 250th career victory in a 3-2 thriller at George Mason (Jan. 14) . . . After the Cardinals went 1-1 last week, Walton enters Friday's match against Mount Olive with a 257-141 (.646) career record . . . Walton will be facing both Mount Olive and Park for the first time.
►ALL-TIME VERSUS THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: Ball State will be playing both Mount Olive and Park for the first time in men's volleyball this weekend.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: The Cardinals enter the week with an 8-5 (2-3 MIVA) record after being swept at No. 8 Ohio State and sweeping in-state rival IPFW at Worthen Arena last week . . . Redshirt junior right side attacker Jamion Hartley paces the BSU attack with a 2.69 kills-per-set average, while junior outside attacker Larry Wrather is second at 2.62 kps . . . Sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine has guided BSU to a .214 rate of success on offense by handing out 9.40 assists per set . . . Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Matt Leske leads the team with 57 total blocks (1.19 bps), while sophomore middle blocker Kevin Owens has a team-high .382 hitting percentage . . . Sophomore libero Tommy Rouse averages 2.40 digs per set to pace the BSU back court.
►TAKING CHARGE AT THE NET: Ball State continues to be one of the most dominating defenses in the nation at the net, ranking 10th in the country with a 2.72 blocks-per-set average . . . Matt Leske leads the Ball State block and ranks 13th nationally at 1.19 bps, while Kevin Owens is 16th in the country at 1.17 and Graham McIlvaine is 25th at 1.00.
►MORE FROM THE NET: Matt Leske turned in one of the best blocking performances of his career in last Saturday's sweep of MIVA rival IPFW, racking up a career-high eight blocks assists . . . Leske has recorded at least two blocks in all of BSU's 13 matches this season, with five-or-more seven times.
►LEADING THE ATTACK: Larry Wrather has led the Ball State offense in kills in each of the last four matches, racking up 43 markers for a 3.31 kills-per-set average during the span . . . He has collected double-digit kills in three of the four matches, including a season-high tying 14 tallies in the sweep of IPFW . . . Kevin Owens is second on the team over the last four matches with 25 kills.
►FROM THE BACK ROW: Sophomore libero Tommy Rouse, who was named the MIVA Defensive Player of Week Jan. 23, enters the week ranked third in the league with a 2.40 digs-per-set average . . . He also boasts a .970 (262-for-270) reception percentage this season.
►HERCEG SERVES UP IPFW: With Ball State trailing 20-16 in the opening set Saturday versus IPFW, junior right side attacker Greg Herceg went back to the service line and promptly blasted two aces over the next three points to help BSU take a 21-20 lead . . . He also provided the kill which gave BSU its 21st point and first advantage since the 8-7 mark . . . Another Herceg kill gave Ball State set-point at 24-22 and BSU won the frame on the next rally . . . Herceg finished the match with a career-high three aces and seven kills.