Squad to finish regular season

Cards only 1 game behind Northern Illinois going into final 2 games.

A 41-match home winning streak means nothing on the road - as the Ball State women's volleyball team has found out.

One game behind Mid-American Conference West Division leader Northern Illinois, the Cardinals (18-7 overall, 13-3 MAC) conclude regular season play with two matches this weekend beginning at 7 tonight at Western Michigan.

"We've got two things in the mix," head coach Randy Litchfield said. "We have to give ourselves a chance to win this thing if it falls in our lap. But equally as important, it's another couple of opportunities to play well on the road. We seemed to have gathered some momentum, and that's going to be important whether it's the MAC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament if we're so lucky."

Litchfield said his team winning is the ultimate priority.

"Sure we'll check the scoreboards both nights, but the worst case scenario for us is if they lose a match and so do we," Litchfield said. "We're far more concerned with what we do than what they do."

Litchfield said the key to the match against Western will be endurance.

"The match will go our way if we can get into long rallies with them," he said. "It's not necessarily our cup of team, but I do think we're better at it now than we ever have been. That's where this match will be."

After the date with the Broncos, the team travels to Central Michigan for a battle at 7 p.m. tilt Saturday.

"Ironically, they've been highly competitive for a team that doesn't win matches," Litchfield said about the Chippewas (6-18, 1-15 MAC). "Sooner or later, they're going to turn around and start winning some. It's not an easy match."

Ball State already will host a MAC Quarterfinal match Nov. 20 at Worthen Arena. However, if BSU wins both of its matches and NIU loses at least one of its two this weekend, the Cards will host the remainder of the tournament. Otherwise, the team must go through Northern if it hopes to see action in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's always good to get on the court and play, especially on the road if we're going to have to go up to Northern for the rest of the MAC Tournament," junior Jenna Foster said.

The Cards have already earned their 11th straight winning season and are two wins shy of making it a tenth straight 20-win season.


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