The men's volleyball team hits the highway to play its first two road matches of the season at the Rutgers-Newark Golden Dome Classic this weekend.
Ball State (4-0) will play rematches against Concordia (1-2) and host school Rutgers-Newark (1-2) this Friday and Saturday, respectively. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago is also a participant in the classic but will not face the Cardinals.
After moving up a spot in the national USA Today/AVCA Coaches poll to be the top-ranked Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association team, No. 9 Ball State is testing itself by playing for the first time away from home. Coach Joel Walton not only expects the team to face stronger opposition in the two schools they have previously beaten, but also expects some learning to take place.
"This is our first set of road games," said Walton, whose team has the best overall record in the MIVA. "I will learn how we play in a hostile environment. I expect to see the team play well and our experience should pay off."
Walton also sees the factor of trust among team members getting better with every match and adds that this classic can improve the team's communication. He hopes to see more of that this weekend.
"The guys can learn... to trust each other," Walton said. "When we play well and they function as a team, it helps them to trust each other and to trust me when I tell them they can accomplish great things this year."
For the season, Ball State ranks high among both MIVA statistical team and individual leaders.
Keith Schunzel is the second in the conference in assists, with 13.83 per game. Paul Fasshauer is second in the MIVA in blocks per game (1.79) and has the third best hitting percentage (.562). Kyle Weindel is fourth in the conference, with 4.92 kills per game and Josh Hall is currently fifth in the MIVA with 2.5 digs a game. Ball State as a team is second in kills per game (16.6), assists per game (15.60), blocks per game (3.7) and first in digs per game at 10.60.