MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals entering final stretch of season
Ball State faces two matches against Grand Canyon this weekend
Ball State isn't about to make the same mistake twice.
As the Ball State men's volleyball team heads into its pair of home matches this weekend against Grand Canyon, the Cardinals are focusing on treating each match like they're playing against the best team in the nation.
Grand Canyon has certainly not played like that this season. The Antelopes are currently winless in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association at 0-6 and hold a record of only 8-17 overall.
Ball State (14-9, 4-4 MIVA) is vulnerable, however, coming off a upset loss last weekend against Division II opponent Lees-McRae.
Senior outside attacker Lee Meyer said Ball State can't allow a similar loss to happen against Grand Canyon.
"I think we ran into overlooking teams this weekend with Lees-McRae," Meyer said. "As an upperclassmen, I understand that every match is important, especially conference matches. No matter who's on the other side of the net, we've got to prepare as if they're the most difficult competition we'll have for the entire season."
While Ball State has played well recently, winning three out of its last four matches, coach Joel Walton is still concerned with the Cardinals' offense.
Walton singled out right side attacking, Greg Herceg and Jamion Hartley's position on the court, as his greatest area of concern at this point in the season.
Herceg has failed to hit higher than a .238 success rate in Ball State's past five matches. Hartley played extensively against King College and Lees-McRae last weekend, but only managed to produce hitting percentages of .125 and .062, respectively.
While the coaching staff may be worried about certain areas of play moving forward, Walton has a positive outlook on Ball State's chances for the remainder of the season.
"I talked to our team and said ‘Guys, I don't think we've played our best volleyball this year,'" Walton said. "I think with continued work and improvement in certain areas, we're capable of playing even better volleyball than we've already played."
Ball State currently holds the third seed in the MIVA tournament with a tiebreaker over Lewis.
The Cardinals will have to take advantage of their opportunities in the final six matches of the season to keep a firm hold on a top seed in the conference tournament.
Walton said he is making sure that his team knows how important it is to not take any match for granted.
"There's a challenge I'm issuing right now to our guys to continue to work and to continue to improve so that we can play great volleyball now at the time of the year where the matches matter more than anytime in the season," he said.
Ball State will play against Grand Canyon today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for each match in Worthen Arena.