Sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson hits the ball against Central Michigan University on Nov. 1 at Worthen Arena. The sophomore has gained 26 kills in the last two losing matches against the University of Toledo and the University of Akron and was tied second on the team against Akron. DN FILE PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State tries to put losing streak behind it
A two-match losing streak isn’t usually something to be concerned about.
It’s just unfamiliar territory for the Ball State women’s volleyball team, considering the standards the players set since the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule began.
“We need to refocus,” sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling said. “Don’t dwell on the past, but learn from it and push forward into the MAC Tournament.”
Ball State was 10-2 in MAC play going into its home match against the University of Toledo. After dropping the match, the team headed on the road to take on the University of Akron in a game where Ball State was the favorite over an Akron team that was just 1-12 at the time.
Akron disposed of Ball State in four sets, at times looking dominant over the visiting team.
Cardinals’ head coach Steve Shondell gave credit to the Zips for the defensive effort, saying the team played better than its record indicated.
“They didn’t look like a team that had just won their first match of the season, that’s for sure,” Shondell said. “They looked like a contender, and we didn’t have the offensive firepower to overcome them.”
That offensive firepower has been lacking in the previous two matches. After hitting a combined .293 against Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, Ball State hit .218 against Toledo and Akron.
Hayley Benson has been a bright spot during the previous two matches. The sophomore middle blocker amassed 26 kills and was tied for the second most on the team against Akron.
She said the team’s poor showing Saturday may have been related to the previous match.
“Thursday, we got really down on ourselves, and we underestimated Akron a little bit,” Benson said. “Getting back in the right mind set and remembering what the end goal is will be important to getting back on track.”
Finding the right mind set will have to happen quickly for Ball State, as the regular season ends Saturday against Western Michigan University. Less than a week after that, the MAC Tournament begins and at that point, it’s single elimination.
Shondell said he hopes Fuelling will be healthier this weekend than she was in the previous two matches, in which he said she was “around 80 percent.”
The boost would give Ball State’s struggling offense the kick-start it needs as the regular season comes to a close and possible momentum to carry into the tournament.
But even with the expectation that Fuelling will improve, Shondell expressed concern after the loss to Akron.
“We’re trying to get through this adversity the best we can, but our left side hitters are injured and that’s where you win in the college game,” he said. “We’re fighting hard, but
I wish I knew what to do.”