The Ball State women's volleyball team returns to action this weekend when it visits Mid-American Conference West rival Toledo Friday night and plays host to Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne Saturday.
This will be the first time in almost a month that the Cardinals have to compete in matches on consecutive nights. Head coach Randy Litchfield said he thinks playing in back-to-back matches is good for the team right now.
"When you're playing pretty well, like we are, you like to play," Litchfield said.
He also feels that it will give the team a good idea of what the MAC season and tournament will be like.
"It gives us a chance to simulate MAC championship weekend because you have to play back-to-back nights," Litchfield said. "We'll prepare Saturday morning in practice and see if we are good at a quick turnaround like that."
Before that, Ball State will have to face a 10-3 Toledo team that has won three-consecutive matches and is currently tied with Ball State and Eastern Michigan for first in the MAC West.
"They are legitimately good," Litchfield said. "I thought they were good last year and they are a notch better this year."
This will be the Cardinals sixth road match in a row. The lack of recent home matches does not concern Litchfield, though.
"We're having a pretty good run of success on the road right now," Litchfield said. "This team seems to thrive on the road."
Litchfield considers Toledo to be the best serving team in the MAC and feels that his team's ability to neutralize the Rockets' serves will be a key component for victory.
"We have to receive serve real well," Litchfield said. "And on the road, we've got to cut down on quick mistakes. We have to be difficult to play against and not give points away."
This match is very important to determining momentum for the rest of the MAC season according to Litchfield.
"You can't even talk about championships unless you prove you can go and win these matches," Litchfield said.
Saturday, Ball State will return home to face the Mastodons of IPFW. The Cardinals have not played a match in Worthen Arena since Sept. 10, when they defeated Morehead State.
"I think it will be great to be at home," Litchfield said. "I have a feeling that my players are going to have a lot of fun in that match."
According to Litchfield, Ball State currently ranks 15th in the nation in average home attendance, which is a trend that he would like to see continue Saturday.
"I'd really love to see the students get involved in that and they are the quickest way to push that number up," said Litchfield.
IPFW entered this week at 8-9 and beat Ball State the last and only time the two teams have faced each other in Muncie. The women's volleyball programs at the two schools have formed a healthy rivalry due in part to the strong contention between the men's volleyball programs at each school.
"This is a huge match on their schedule because of the rivalry and because they don't have a conference affiliation yet," Litchfield said. "They treat matches like this with the utmost importance."5521-¼?-¦Iwvolleyballpreview 10.4DNEditorial552SORT2+â-ä2AUDT