Replacing two starting outside attackers will be hard enough for Ball State head coach Joel Walton and his men’s volleyball team when they open the season Saturday. He said true freshman Brenden Surane would start on the right side at outside attacker, hoping to help replace the graduated Greg Herceg and Jamion Hartley. There will be no time for Surane to adjust, not when the first match is against defending national champion UC Irvine. “We don’t have to be perfect,” Walton said.
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When the Ball State men’s volleyball head coach Joel Walton thought of leadership, his mind immediately went to senior Kevin Owens. Seconds later, Walton jumped to senior Graham McIlvaine.
With about a month remaining until the start of the men’s volleyball regular season, two Ball State players have set high expectations. Middle attackers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens were named second-team preseason All-American by Off The Block/Springback.
Strategies that Ball State women’s volleyball head coach Steve Shondell preached all season seemed to vanish at the Mid-American Conference Tournament. During the 31-game regular season, his team relied on accurate passing, a lights-out defense and swarming energy to vault them to a 24-7 record. It may have been injuries, Western Michigan’s game plan or the grind of playing 116 sets throughout the regular season that played a factor in Ball State’s first-round loss. Whichever it was, there was something missing from Ball State on Friday night. “We could have had more intensity tonight,” sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling said.
As she laid out, body fully outstretched toward the net, setter Jacqui Seidel gave the crucial point every ounce of energy she had in her body. The ball came crashing down to the left of her arm. So the Ball State women’s volleyball team’s season as well. Ball State lost in four sets (25-17, 24-26, 20-25, 21-25) in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the second season. The loss was the team’s first to Western Michigan as Ball State knocked off the team twice earlier in the season. “Tonight, they were making the plays that we were making last week,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said about Western Michigan.
It’s now or never for Mindy Marx. The senior middle blocker for the Ball State women’s volleyball team has made three trips to the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Ball State: #1 Mackenzie Kitchel, outside hitter #2 Alex Fuelling, outside hitter: Fuelling led Ball State with 340 kills despite missing four games with an ankle injury.
The third time may be the charm for Western Michigan, but not if Catie Fredrich and Lauren Grant can help it.
_David Polaski is a junior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘Dave’s Digs’ for the Daily News.
When the lights turn on in the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, the Ball State women’s volleyball team can’t afford to make mistakes. Not when one error could make the difference between a Mid-American Conference championship and leaving empty handed. As the pressure builds, so does the energy that seniors Jacqui Seidel and Kylee Baker play with.
By the end of Saturday’s match against Western Michigan University, Lauren Grant had 10 kills. That would normally put a player at or near the top of the kill lead in a match. Not this time, though, not when four other players finished with even more in one of the strongest offensive performances of the season by the Ball State women’s volleyball team. But it wasn’t holes in the defense that Ball State was seeing that spurred the offense, said sophomore middle blocker Hayley Benson. “[It was] a lot of determination,” she said.
Few things could make Ball State’s regular season closing win against Western Michigan University more satisfying for Jenna Spadafora. Doing it on her birthday is one of them. “I love that I got a win on my birthday,” Spadafora said.
Ball State has seen its fair share of strong outside hitters lately. It doesn’t get any easier Friday, when the Ball State women’s volleyball team travels to Northern Illinois University in the final weekend of the regular season. After facing Lauren Rafdal, who leads the Mid-American Conference in kills, the Cardinals will take on Mackenzie Roddy.
After injuring her ankle in practice earlier this season, recovering physically has only been half the battle for Alex Fuelling. When the sophomore outside hitter took the court against the University of Toledo on Tuesday, being physically ready was only the start of being fully healthy. “I wanted to worry about how to attack Toledo and less about my ankle,” Fuelling said after the match.
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.
The loss the Ball State women’s volleyball team suffered to the University of Toledo on Thursday wasn’t a surprise considering Toledo’s talent, but Saturday’s loss to a 2-12 conference University of Akron team was shocking.
AKRON, OHIO — Ball State was on a 7-0 run and had all the momentum, as the offense was throwing down kills and the defense was blocking nearly every attack and digging each volleyball that got past the blockers. But the hole the women’s volleyball team had dug itself was too large. The 7-0 run only tied the fourth set of Ball State’s 3-1 (17-25), (19-25), (25-9), (26-24) loss to the University of Akron. After leading the set 24-23, Ball State collapsed and allowed Akron to fire off the last 3 points, sealing Ball State’s second straight Mid-American Conference loss. It’s the first conference losing streak Ball State has seen this season. “In the first two sets, [Akron] dug everything we hit,” Ball State head coach Steve Shondell said.
Ball State took on the Toledo Rockets on Nov. 7. The Cardinals dropped the match 2-3.
Leading 24-23 in the third set after already taking the first two, the Ball State women’s volleyball team was ready to finish off the University of Toledo. Worthen Arena’s fans were on their feet, all 1,454 of them — the biggest attendance of the season. They were ready to explode if Ball State swept Toledo, cementing the team in first place in the Mid-American Conference West. It never happened.
With the women’s volleyball regular season coming to a close within the next few weeks, there have been numerous upsets and influential games that have shaped how the Mid-American Conference standings have shaped up.