With the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule halfway done, the Ball State women’s volleyball team has built an identity.

Head coach Steve Shondell said he wants to see passing with laser accuracy, and he’s gotten it for the most part. The team has worked as one unit, another key ingredient to its 7-1 MAC record.

But it would all be useless without the play Ball State has exhibited late during crucial sets against tough opponents.

Ball State recent close sets

at Central Michigan University (Set 2): Led 21-20, won 25-22
vs. Western Michigan University (Set 2): Trailed 14-19, won 25-23
vs. Western Michigan University (Set 3): Trailed 21-24, won 27-25
at Kent State University (Set 3): Tied 24-24, won 27-25
at Ohio University (Set 1): Led 23-21, won 25-21
at Ohio University (Set 3): Trailed 18-20, won 25-22

“We’ve got a lot of poise and confidence, and we never stop believing,” Shondell said. “Half the battle is believing you can do it.”

Against Ohio University, Ball State led 23-18 in the first set. After Ohio went on a 3-0 run to cut the lead to two, Shondell used a timeout. His team rallied and scored the next two points to take the first set.

Just a little later, the two teams were tied at 22 in the third set. In one of the most high-pressure moments Ball State has felt this season, the team didn’t blink. Ohio did.

Ohio committed three consecutive attack errors to give Ball State the 25-22 win.

“Maybe a team you’re playing against doesn’t have the same amount of experience as you,” Shondell said. “We’ve got a lot of experience ourselves, and these girls believe they can win.”

Ball State has had a lot of experience in tight situations this season. Against Western Michigan University, Ball State trailed in the second set 15-19 before rallying to tie the set at 21, then went on a 4-2 run to take the set.

Minutes later, the team trailed 21-24 in the third set. The Cardinals then went on a 6-1 run to win 27-25. Sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson and senior middle blocker Mindy Marx had one kill each in that run while Western Michigan committed four attack errors.

Shondell said he thinks the reason for his team’s success with the set on the line goes back to the experience his players have. Ball State’s senior class has been though numerous scenarios throughout their careers and are used to high pressure moments.

“This is a year where we’ve got so much experience on the floor,” he said. “They’ve all been through the program and know how to get the job done.”

Against Western Michigan and Ohio, Ball State didn’t make many kills in the closing minutes of those close sets. Rather, the Cardinals controlled the pace of the point and let the opponent beat itself by committing attack errors.

With a difficult opponent coming up Friday against Bowling Green State University, Ball State will rely on that experience to push through the match.