It can be a struggle to maintain motivation and consistency through a long and arduous season in any sport.
It will become even harder for the Ball State men's volleyball team this weekend.
Ball State will have plenty of time to get to know Quincy this weekend, as the two Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association teams face each other at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday in a test of determination and focus.
"The challenge of playing one team twice in a weekend is keeping our guys' motivation level up," coach Joel Walton said. "If on the first night we play well and have a relatively easy time, it can be breaking coming back the second night and playing [the same team] as well.
"If we don't play well, sometimes that helps the second night, but sometimes they're better than you gave them credit for."
Quincy is 8-6 through 14 matches this season, but is winless in the MIVA with 0-3 losses to Lewis once and Ohio State twice.
Ball State is in a similar position to Quincy, as it enters the weekend with only one conference win.
"They've played some of the MIVA's better teams, so they're very capable," Walton said. "They run a balanced offense, where all five of their attackers are getting a good or reasonable amount of set attempts and getting an opportunity to contribute to what they're doing offensively."
Midway through the season, Ball State continues to tinker with its lineup. After starting Greg Herceg, Marcus Imwalle and Dominic Spadavecchio at outside attacker against Ohio State Feb. 18, the Cardinals decided to go in a different direction against Loyola, starting Spadavecchio, Larry Wrather, and Jamion Hartley.
Walton said the matches this weekend will feature more changes at outside attacker.
"Right now we're planning on starting Greg [Herceg], Larry [Wrather], and Dominic Spadavecchio," he said. "We're expecting those players to play well, and hopefully play the majority of the weekend. But if we need to, we know we have capable players who are ready to come in and help our team be successful."
Walton also called on students to continue their support for the men's volleyball team. Ball State's matches against Ohio State and Loyola last weekend featured the largest home crowds the Cardinals had played in front of this season.
"It's really important that we get Ball State students out to support the team," Walton said. "Our crowds for both Ohio State and Loyola last weekend were fantastic, and it would be great to playing in front of those types of crowds this weekend."