Litchfield concerned about lacking defense

Winners of 38 straight home matches, the women's volleyball team looks to make it 40 in a row with two home contests this weekend.

The Cardinals (13-6 overall, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) host Ohio tonight at 7, and welcome Eastern Michigan into Worthen Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. as well.

Coach Randy Litchfield said Ball State's home winning streak -- the nation's 3rd longest -- means nothing once a match begins.

"I don't want it to become too much of a comfort to us," he said. "Worthen Arena has never won a volleyball match. Our home crowd has never won a match, although they've helped. I don't want us to fall into a trap of feeling too comfortable at home."

Litchfield also said the Cardinal defense needs to come up big in both matches this weekend.

"Our offense is going pretty well, but our defense is very sporadic," Litchfield said. "We look back to two weeks ago when our defense was just awesome, and we need to find that again.

"(Ohio) has played much better volleyball since the MAC schedule started," Litchfield said. "They're very young and seem to be getting better as the year rolls along."

Saturday's opponent, Eastern Michigan, might mean a little more to the Cards -- they were defeated 3-0 last Saturday by the Eagles in Ypsilanti, Mich.

"Revenge may be part of it, but Eastern Michigan is in the hunt," Litchfield said. "It's an absolutely critical match in the championship picture.

"Every match right now is a big match. You want to go into November finding your stride and peaking. I think there's some pressure on us through this weekend and Wednesday to really have our game together."

With just eight matches remaining in the regular season, Litchfield said he still believes that Ball State must greatly increase its level of play in order to be in contention for the MAC crown.

"I feel like we're the best team, but I don't feel like we're playing the best volleyball," he said. "Northern Illinois is playing the best volleyball in the conference. Teams win, and we have not played very good team volleyball lately."


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