WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State prepares for IUPUI
The Daily News
Move onto the next opponent, immediately.
With IUPUI coming to Worthen Arena tonight, there’s no time for rest.
“We have to focus on right now and not get caught up in what happened over the weekend,” freshman Mackenzie Kitchel said. “Get reps in and rest our legs and not let anything get into our heads.”
There’s no time for Ball State to relax, not with the offensive weapons the Jaguars bring.
IUPUI’s Moriah Fair and Kaitlyn Hickey are the team’s top outsides hitters. The two have combined for more than 300 kills and nearly 300 digs.
Only one other player on IUPUI has more than 50 kills.
Both were named to the All-Summit league last year, with Hickey receiving Summit League Freshman of the Year.
For Ball State, the key to beating IUPUI revolves around beating its star players and forcing its lesser used players to the forefront.
“We have to get two blockers in their face on a consistent basis,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said. “They’re both going to get a lot of shots and be physical and will do a lot of damage if we let them.”
Both players are coming off of strong matches. On Saturday, IUPUI fell to Southeast Missouri State, but not before Hickey put up 25 kills and Fair added 16.
The Jaguars also lost in straight sets to Ohio State and Xavier, although most of the sets in both matches came down to the final few points. Fair and Hickey led the way again, providing most of the offense and nearly engineering upset victories.
One of Ball State’s biggest enemies against IUPUI could be overconfidence.
The Jaguars are just 4-7 this season, 1-3 on the road. Players could easily dismiss the Jaguars despite the dangers Fair and Hickey pose, but Shondell doesn’t want his team overlooking anybody because of the win or loss total.
“They’ve played everybody tough, including Ohio State and Xavier,” Shondell said. “I’m thankful we get to play at home and not out in the Jungle.”
IUPUI went 11-2 last season in the Jungle, its volleyball arena. One of its two losses came to Ball State, who swept the match 3-0.
Although containing Fair and Hickey will be main components to slowing down IUPUI’s attack, Shondell said he knows sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.
Kitchel’s performance during the weekend helped lead the team to its victories, and the momentum could continue against IUPUI.
Shondell said he believes Kitchel could be a key in knocking off IUPUI, saying that her ability can cause problems for the opposing defense.
By jumping ahead early, Kitchel and the offense could put IUPUI on its heels and force errors from the visitors.
IUPUI has committed 227 errors this season, just more than 20 a match. If Ball State can build a lead on IUPUI, it’ll cause Fair and Hickey to become more aggressive and more errors could be the result.
Ball State faces off against IUPUI tonight at 7 at Worthen Arena.