Despite an injury-riddled 2012 season, the Ball State women’s volleyball team may have the luxury of redshirting some freshmen players this season.

Coach Steve Shondell said freshmen Sabrina Mangapora and Lauren Gross are the leading candidates to be redshirted for the Cardinals.

Redshirting allows a player to forgo one season of playing time in order to improve physically and mentally, and use that season in the future.

“Sabrina and Lauren are girls that I have to decide in the next week if we’re going to redshirt them or let them play,” Shondell said. “If they’re going to be girls 

that I don’t feel will be on the court a lot and making great contributions, then we’ll redshirt them.”

Redshirts can be determined in a number of ways. Sometimes an athlete will be buried under several other players in the depth chart, making it unlikely for that player to see time.

For Mangapora and Gross, it could be as simple as they need more time to get up to speed with the faster pace of college volleyball.

Coaches can be hesitant to redshirt specific freshmen because of a lack of depth at a certain position. Last season, Ball State’s starters suffered recurring injuries, forcing freshmen to step up when it could have been better for them to be learning on the bench.

Ball State’s depth chart could contribute to Shondell’s decision. With a healthy roster, he could have the luxury of giving some players redshirt status.

Mangapora is an outside hitter, but would sit behind Kylee Baker, Marquita Marshall, Mackenzie Kitchel and Alex Fuelling on the depth chart.

Gross faces the same problem, with Mindy Marx, Kelly Hopkins and Hayley Benson all ahead of her for middle blocker.

Instead of spending a year of eligibility sitting on the bench and not playing, Shondell can redshirt them so they keep all four years of eligibility.

“I want to watch them for another week before I make a decision,” Shondell said. “I try to redshirt as many freshmen as I can.”

That strategy of redshirting as many freshmen as possible can pay off when they become fifth-year seniors, and have the maximum amount of experience a player can possibly have.

For Shondell, the decision isn’t easy. Once a player is redshirted, that player can’t play all season. If the player does play, the year of eligibility is immediately lost. 

If injuries flare up in a similar fashion to last season, Shondell could be forced to play Mangapora and Gross regardless of what his preseason plan for them was. 

Injuries are unpredictable, but coaches plan for potential setbacks and who is behind the starters on the depth chart. The less depth, the less chance a player will be redshirted.

“If I feel like they can really contribute to the team, then no I won’t redshirt them,” Shondell said. “But if I’m uncertain about that, then I’d rather be safe than sorry.”