Hate is a strong word, but after how things went down last season, the mere mention of Bowling Green State University (8-15, 1-7) gets Ball State University (10-11, 3-5) women's volleyball players Brittany McGinnis and Elaina Kakatolis' blood boiling.
"I hate Bowling Green. I have ever since we lost to them in five sets last year," Kakatolis said. "Getting two wins to start the second half of the MAC season would be a great start, but it'd really be nice to get a win over Bowling Green. The more dominating, the better."
The passionate and fiery feel to Friday night's grudge match stems from a loss in five sets to Bowling Green last season. With a chance to put the match away, a Hannah Sullivan shot down the line just missed staying in bounds, giving Bowling Green the chance to rally and win.
"I remember a lot from last year. It's intense and hard to play at Bowling Green," McGinnis said. "I remember every play and we're going to make sure all the new-comers are aware of what happened."
This year, Bowling Green has had a tough time in Mid-American Conference action as evidenced in their 1-7 MAC record. Adding more fuel to the fire is the five-game win streak the Falcons hold over the Cardinals.
"They run a conservative, but efficient offense. They're not going to give us any points," coach Dave Boos said. "We have to play low error volleyball against teams like this to beat them."
Playing low error volleyball is something Ball State has struggled with at times this season, particularly in the MAC schedule.
"The first half has been a challenge. We've had good performances and some less than ideal performances. Granted, our constant lineup changes due to injuries has prevented us from getting into a rhythm," Boos said. "We're looking for more consistent play. We've been so up and down."
The other MAC foe, Miami University (11-9, 6-2), comes to Worthen Arena Saturday at 7 p.m. Unlike previous opponents, Ball State has won 14 of the last 16 showdowns including a five-set, extra time thriller last season.
"Our confidence was low after how we played against Kent, but we rebounded against Ohio so our confidence is back," McGinnis said. "If we win the serve and passing game this weekend, we should win both matches."
The records and histories between the Cardinals, Falcons and Redhawks runs deep. Whether it was a heart-breaking defeat or thrilling victory in five sets, Ball State has been on both sides of the coin.
"We have to ignore records and history with the MAC being so wide open this year," Boos said. "Any team can win on any given night which wasn't always the case. We have to focus on playing better than our opponent each time out on the floor."
With eight down and eight to go, the Cardinals sit fourth in the MAC West. After being picked second in the West in the preseason, it's safe to say the Cardinals are disappointed with their results and are looking to change things with a big second half push.
"The big thing is to take advantage of our schedule. We were on the road five times in the first half and now get to be at home five times in the second half," Boos said. "It's going to be fun and exciting playing at home that much."