Daniel Sipocz

Ball State was just looking to defend its home floor during the weekend. Instead the Cardinals turned the weekend into a statement.

Central Michigan was picked to win the Mid-American Conference West Division. Eastern Michigan was the undefeated upstart leading the MAC West.

None of that mattered, as Ball State (13-3, 3-1 MAC) beat Central Michigan 25-21, 18-25, 25-10, 25-17 and swept Eastern Michigan 25-19, 25-23, 25-22.

"There's so much parity in the league that if you don't come to play you're going to leave with an ‘L.' That's just a fact of life," coach Steve Shondell said. "Right now we're doing the little things to edge out great opponents."

Fans familiar with the 1990s and early 2000s were treated to vintage Ball State volleyball: ball control, solid defense and a balanced offense.

As satisfied as Shondell and his team were with their play, they recognized there would be plenty to work on in practice.

"Offensively we could have played better and that's all on me," junior setter Brittany McGinnis said. "I need to push the tempo and push my hitters to go faster. It's something we're going to focus on this week."

The Ball State defense came alive after dropping the second set to Central Michigan (7-9, 1-3). The Cardinals stormed out of the locker room with a much improved blocking game. The result was a dominating 25-10 third set win.

That attitude carried over into Saturday when Ball State out-blocked and out-dug Eastern Michigan (16-4, 3-1). Senior libero Alyssa Rio recorded 26 digs.

Freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 17 digs. McGinnis and freshman

defensive specialist Catie Fredrich added 11 digs each.

"It's been a relief since we been blocking," Fredrich said. "Everyone has been congratulating the block because it's making it a whole lot easier to read balls and get touches rather than digging it and digging it."

Time is now the enemy for Ball State. The Cardinals will have a short week to prepare for Toledo (5-10, 0-4) and Buffalo (13-7, 1-3).

"We could be in a better spot than what we are in now," McGinnis said. "Our one loss [in the MAC] was all our errors. It's better than where we've been in the past, so I'll take it."