Nathan Pace

From coast to coast, the Ball State University men's volleyball team has been living on the road for the past month.

It's been three weeks since their last match in Worthen Arena, and the Cardinals will play two matches on the East Coast before their home match next Friday.

"I don't know if I would ever want to travel that way again," coach Joel Walton said. "Certainly, playing in both Phoenix and L.A. in a short span of days is a lot more than we would want our team to go through."

The road trips are used in part to clear time for the basketball teams to complete their seasons. After this weekend the Cardinals will finish the year with six of their last nine matches at home.

After their Spring Break road trip out west, Ball State will now take an East Coast road trip against a pair of teams it defeated in Muncie earlier this season. Ball State will be in action Friday against George Mason University followed by another road match at Rutgers-Newark University on Saturday. The Cardinals are hoping to show improvement from those early season matches.

"I remember that our random touches weren't good at that point in the season," middle attacker Anders Nelson said. "We had a lot of miscommunication errors and things like that,"

Ball State defeated George Mason 3-1 on Jan. 29. The match with Rutgers-Newark on Jan. 30 went five games before Ball State came away with a 3-2 victory.

"We are not pleased with our effort that night," Nelson said. "We think that we can improve ourselves to be a better team this time around."

Rutgers has been on a five-match winning streak, but only has six wins on the year.

"I'm sure they are a team playing with confidence right now," Walton said, "We got to make sure that we go in ready to overcome the momentum they got."

Ball State split the season series with George Mason last year and doesn't want to let history repeat itself.

"They have some hecklers," Nelson said. "Last year I remember they ripped the server pretty good."

Both matches are out of conference and will not affect Ball State's 4-4 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association record. The 10-7 Cardinals look to improve their overall record this weekend.

"Right now it's trying to get them more accountable for how they are playing," Walton said. "Not only on the good things they are doing, but also the areas that they need to improve so that our overall play gets better."