Daniel Sipocz

With the success of another 3-0 weekend and a victory over IUPUI on Tuesday night, Ball State holds a 7-0 record heading into what could prove to be the critical part of their schedule.

The next five nonconference matches and the first two Mid-American Conference matches are all on the road. The Cardinals have only been away from Worthen Arena once this year and will have get used to new environments and atmospheres.

"I like going on the road and being with the team," freshman defensive specialist Catie Fredrich said. "I like seeing different places and experiencing different environments. It's also really fun to go into people's hometowns and arenas and beating them there."

For Ball State, the next challenger is Wright State (3-4). The Horizon League school has had a rough start to the season with losses to Morehead State and Austin Peay.

"Playing on the road challenges us to be mentally tough," coach Steve Shondell said. "It's important to be mentally tough."

Ball State showed mental toughness against opponents on multiple occasions this season. The latest demonstration came against IUPUI. The Cardinals had poor starts to the first and second sets, getting down by six or seven points early before rallying back to win both sets.

"That's the biggest difference in this team from last year, this team has been able to come from behind," Shondell said. "I think mental toughness develops over time and that it comes with some of our new faces on the coaching staff and roster."

Shondell sees Saturday's match against Wright State as an opportunity to once again challenge his team to be mentally tough, but Fredrich has another opportunity in mind.

"Going on the road will allow us to work on coming out and having a better start," Fredrich said. "I think we can play like we normally do and not be as laid back at the start against IUPUI which didn't help us get off to a good start."

Wright State will also provide Ball State with the opportunity to face 6-foot middle blockers that can force outside hitters Kylee Baker, Whitney Heeres, Hannah Sullivan, and Charde' Phillips to adjust their shots.

The tall middle blockers could also challenge Ball State middle blockers Kelsey Brandl and Jennifer Boyd at the net. Shondell looks forward to the match.

"It's a good thing we only have one opponent to prepare for this week," he said. "Its difficult to prepare for three opponents at once for one weekend."

The Cardinals' unbeaten record and 21-set winning streak is on the line, but Shondell said he and his team doesn't feel any added pressure.

"WWe're just taking it one game and one match at a time," Shondell said. "The accomplishments of the team have been impressive, but we expect to have success. You have to expect success to have success."