After a four-match home stand produced four key victories, the women's volleyball team is back out in front of the rest of the Mid-American Conference - but not by much.
The Cardinals (16-6 overall, 12-2 MAC) begin their final five regular season matches of the season tonight at 7 at Northern Illinois at the Chick Evans Field House. With a conference mark of 11-2, the Huskies are just one-half of a game back of the Cards and poised to take over.
Head coach Randy Litchfield said the team must transfer the momentum and confidence it possesses at home onto the road.
"Half of our battle must be going on the road with confidence and some attitude," Litchfield said. "We're really excited. Playing on the road in October - those are the dog days. Now it's November. Your fate is so close at hand; it gets pretty exciting."
The Huskies (16-4 overall, 11-2 MAC) have been on a hot streak, winning 13 straight matches, including a 3-0 drubbing of Iowa Tuesday. Their 13 wins in a row are the most since the 1993 Huskie team won 15 straight.
"It certainly is the most important match we've played," Litchfield said. "It's as big as it gets without being a season maker or breaker. I'm not ready to say that this is the biggest thing we're every going to play in, but a big win on the road at this time of year would really kick start us. It's what this team needs."
Ball State senior attacker Megan Hammons needs just 11 kills to break the MAC career kills mark of 1,709, set by Tammy Schiller of Bowling Green over ten years ago. Hammons, who averages four kills per game, will likely break the record.
"The mark that Megan is about to reach is great for her and great for our program," Litchfield said. "There are some phenomenal names on that list and she is about to be at the top. Megan will be focused on winning a big match (tonight), but as she goes, so does our team, so I expect her to be ready to play."
Litchfield still insists that winning this match is a priority.
"The winner Friday night will have every advantage in the world, and both teams know that," he said. "I think it's equally important to know that it is not a season-ending match. There is so much still left and we have to keep that match in perspective. It's hard not to know though, that perspective means hosting the tournament and a championship."