The Ball State women's volleyball team will continue its Mid-American Conference season this Saturday when it travels to Athens, Ohio, for a match against the Bobcats of Ohio University.
The Cardinals are coming off a big 3-1 win against defending MAC West Division and Tournament champion Northern Illinois. In that match, Ball State tied the NCAA record for points with 121.
"Everything related to the match was important," head coach Randy Litchfield said of the NIU match. "We needed to go on the road and play the defending champions who return all but one player to find out how good we were. I think we found out. We're not a great volleyball team yet, but we are super-competitive and pulled a win out for the first in that city in 13 years."
While the 5-6 Cardinals were very successful in their opening match of MAC play, Litchfield still sees room for improvement.
"I made a mistake in our ten days off in not implementing enough team play. We focused on good, old-fashioned fundamentals and I was really pleased with the execution of those, but we were a little rusty with our team play. We looked a little out of sync all night," said Litchfield.
He feels the problem can easily be corrected though.
"We play so regularly through the rest of the season that we'll find our competing rhythm again and we'll be fine," said Litchfield.
In the Bobcats on Saturday, the Cardinals will be facing a team that is 10-2 so far this season and has won 16 of its last 19 dating back to last season.
Litchfield sees Ohio and Northern Illinois as very similar teams, saying that both are big and physical. He does not think this will be a problem for Ball State.
"I like the match up. It won't be something we aren't used to. Of course, we've been playing big teams since Labor Day weekend," said Litchfield.
Once again, Ball State will depend on its speed and technical skill to compete against a larger team.
"We need to out-skill them. Our serving and passing are so critical to us," said Litchfield.
According to Litchfield, the outside hitting trio of seniors Katie Butts and Jenna Foster and freshman Sarah Obras will lead the Cardinals on offense.
"You can win a lot of matches with good outside hitting," said Litchfield. "It has become a staple lately in college volleyball."
A win over Ohio will give Ball State its first .500 record so far this season; something that Litchfield feels his team wants very much.
"We've been through so many wars already against the United States' most elite college teams and have held our own. We're upset we haven't won some of those matches," said Litchfield. "The team senses now that it is our turn. We've paid our dues and it is our turn to be winners."8824 d-¦Iwvolleyballpreview 9.27.02DNEditorial882SORTb+â-ä2AUDT