Ball State women’s volleyball coach Steve Shondell called Sabrina Mangapora “maybe the most outstanding freshman in the [Mid-American Conference] this year.”

A redshirt, Mangapora has forced her way into the Ball State starting lineup and seized an opportunity to be a go-to player for the Cardinals.

Mangapora wasn’t quite ready to play when she came to Ball State as a true freshman last year, said Shondell. But her preparation through redshirting made all the difference.

“I was on the other side of the net pushing the starting team all the time last year,” Mangapora said. “You’d get to go out and cheer them on as they competed, and even though you didn’t get to play, it still felt like you won every single game, because you know that you helped make them better.”

The Cardinals went 24-8 Mangapora's redshirt year, and despite not being able to participate in any matches, she could practice and travel with the team.

She said the redshirt season motivated her to continue making strides to her game throughout the fall season and into the spring and summer offseason.

Shondell said Mangapora’s work in the weight room helped establish her as an effective player, as it has greatly helped her upper body strength.

“She’s always had a really good arm, which is why I recruited her. She had a really strong, fast arm,” Shondell said. “But, the fact that she contacts the ball three inches higher than she was before she got here has made her a lot more effective as well.”

Mangapora’s improvements made way for more playing time as Ball State struggled offensively to begin the year. The Cardinals were making too many attack errors, said Shondell.

She posted a then career-high in kills with 11 on Oct. 12 against Missouri State and has been a consistent performer for the Cardinals since that point.

“She’s been a player that we can count on almost every match to come up with double-figure kills,” Shondell said. “She gave our offense much-needed points on the left side.”

Mangapora is currently third on Ball State's offense with 158 kills on the season, averaging 2.39 per set. She has an overall hitting percentage of .163.

Despite her offensive emergence, Mangapora has also had an impact on defense, as Shondell said blocking is her most improved asset.

“She’s given us a real physical presence in that left front blocking position,” Shondell said.

Mangapora leads the Cardinals in solo blocks this season with 15 and has 25 total blocks.

On an improved defense and rising offense, Mangapora has helped the Cardinals to four straight wins and an 11-8 record, including 5-1 in conference play.

She has been in and out of the starting lineup, but Mangapora said it doesn’t matter to her as long as she helps put the Cardinals in a position to get a victory.

“I’ve just taken every game as an opportunity to get out there and help my team win, to help us succeed in every way I possibly can," Mangapora said.