Volleyball team travels to Northern Illinois

Ball State has not beaten Northern Illinois in Dekalb, Ill. since 1989

After having an entire week off to practice and recuperate, the Ball State women's volleyball team returns to action Wednesday when they travel to Northern Illinois to face the defending Mid-American Conference West Division and MAC Tournament champion Huskies.

The break could not have come at a better time head coach Randy Litchfield said.

"It has been a tremendous benefit," he said. "When you're in these long tournament weekends, it seems like you do nothing but travel and play. We needed to be in the gym working things out more."

The added time off has given the Cardinals a chance to focus on the MAC season after a brutal pre-conference schedule that saw Ball State face off against some of the top volleyball schools in the country. And despite its 4-6 record, the team remains confident.

"If it is possible to feel good at 4-6, we feel real good," Litchfield said. "We're driven a little bit by the fact that we gave a couple matches away. I think we're also really motivated by how well we've competed against five nationally ranked teams."

Litchfield applauds his players for not getting frustrated with themselves, even though he admits he is a horrible loser himself.

"We've really done a good job staying positive and I think that's helped a lot," Litchfield said. "This team is really hard to get frustrated with because they are so resilient."

The beginning of the MAC season again sees the Cardinals on the road against a tough opponent. This time, the tough opponent is the Huskies, who Ball State was 1-2 against last season.

Litchfield said he feels his team is well prepared for the game.

"If we can't get up to play Northern Illinois, with our lack of good performances up there lately and playing the defending champions, then we've got a whole other set of problems," Litchfield said. "This team will not have that problem though. We'll go up there and be as competitive as ever."

Northern Illinois' head coach Ray Gooden was 24-6 overall last season with a 15-3 conference record in his first season as a head coach. The Huskies are returning four of six starters from last year's squad. So far this season, Northern is 7-4 and is coming of a loss to No. 21 Michigan State.

"My guess is they'll play like defending champions," Litchfield said.

While the Huskies own a better record than the Cardinals, Litchfield feels his team will not be intimidated.

"I want to compete and that's all we've done so far every step of the way, so I have no worries going up to Northern Illinois," Litchfield said.


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