Lauren Grant, a senior opposite hitter, hits the ball over the net during the first set of the match against Eastern Michigan. Ball State won on their senior night 3-0. DN PHOTO EMMA ROGERS
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL: Third matchup against Western Michigan doesn’t intimidate players
The third time may be the charm for Western Michigan, but not if Catie Fredrich and Lauren Grant can help it.
The two seniors on the Ball State women’s volleyball team have been integral parts of their teams two victories against Western Michigan this season, and they don’t expect much about the game plan to be different.
On Friday, the Cardinals will attempt to knock off the Broncos for the third time this season, a feat that’s been surprisingly difficult for Mid-American Conference teams in the past.
Previous matches against Western Michigan
3-1 win (21-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-14)
Attack percentage: .241
3-1 win (25-21, 28-26, 23-25, 25-17)
Attack percentage: .263
Teams that get beaten by a certain opponent heading into the tournament have had success rebounding. If matched up against that same team in the postseason, the losing team often comes out on top in the postseason.
“We know that’s happened in the past,” Grant, an opposite side attacker, said. “We can’t let that affect us, we have to know if we play our game that it’ll take care of itself.”
In 2010, Ball State knocked off Toledo twice in the regular season before being swept by Toledo in the first match of the postseason.
One year later, Eastern Michigan beat Ball State during both regular season matchups, then Ball State knocked Eastern Michigan out of the tournament.
Ball State head coach Steve Shondell recognized the phenomenon and even said that he can’t explain why it happens.
As the head coach since 2010, he’s witnessed both instances against Toledo and Eastern Michigan.
“Often times, the worst thing you can actually do is win the two matches against that team in the regular season,” Shondell said. “If you go into a match thinking that you can’t lose just because you won the previous two, that’s been proven wrong time and time again.”
In order to continue its winning pattern, Fredrich said her team may have to switch up its strategy depending on what the Broncos do. After playing each other twice, both
Fredrich and Grant said each team knows what will be thrown at them.
Part of what Ball State will throw at Western Michigan will be its high-speed offense. With players constantly flying around, it’s hard for opposing teams to track where the ball will go, Fredrich said.
It causes opponents to “tool” the ball, which is when blockers attempt to block the ball but is shanked off their arms either out-of-bounds or into an open spot on the court.
“Our players have to be up quick and run our quick-tempo offense because they can’t stop us,” Fredrich said. “Keep hitting it into their block and hit as much on offense because they can’t dig our attacks.”
Western Michigan has struggled this season with defending Ball State’s attack. Saturday, Ball State threw down 71 kills and had 65 in their first matchup.
A lot of those kills came from the shanked attacks Shondell wants to see in the Friday matchup. After doing it twice already this season, Fredrich and Grant both agreed that they don’t expect it to change much when the teams meet for the third time.
“Our offense is so fast that they’re just trying to get a touch on the ball,” Fredrich said.