Strong middle play has carried the Ball State women’s volleyball team on offense this season, with middle attackers Hayley Benson and Kelly Hopkins helping to lead the Cardinals to a 5-1 Mid-American Conference record.

Benson’s performance in a 2-0 weekend over conference foes was her season in a nutshell.

“We had one player that was outstanding,” head coach Steve Shondell said after Ball State beat Toledo on Oct. 9. “I’m not sure where we would’ve been without her ... I give [Benson] a ton of credit for really putting the team on her back.”

In the Oct. 9 victory over the Rockets, Benson led Ball State with 16 kills, committing only one error, as she converted on 16 of her 28 total attacks.

“She was a big part of the reason we hit .235 [attack percentage],” Shondell said. “You take away that .535 hitting percentage, we’re not anywhere close.”

Benson continued her efficiency the following night as Ball State ran its winning streak to four with a 3-1 win over Buffalo.

She took advantage of Buffalo’s defense to the tune of a season-best .609-attack percentage.

Benson tallied 14 kills in the match, with zero attack errors. Only one player on the Ball State offense finished with more kills in the match than Benson – Hopkins, who registered 15.

Benson and Hopkins combined for over half of the team’s kills and a total .456 percentage. This is nothing new for the Cardinals this year, as they have been key components for Ball State all season.

“They’re two players that we need to count on each and every match,” Shondell said.

Benson has totaled 208 kills on the season to lead Ball State, accounting for 2.70 per set.

She has hit .345 overall, with only 52 errors in 19 matches.

Hopkins is second on the Cardinals’ offense, with 166 kills, averaging 2.48 per set.

A strong offensive effort will be needed as the Cardinals return to Worthen Arena next weekend.

Benson or Hopkins has led Ball State in kills in all six conference matches thus far.

The pair will look to continue its recent dominance and help lift the team into first place as the season winds down.

Upcoming Matches

Date: Opponent: Location: Time:
10/17 Ohio Muncie, IN 7:00 p.m.
10/18 Kent State Muncie, IN 7:00 p.m.
10/24 Miami (Ohio) Oxford, OH 7:00 p.m.
10/25 Bowling Green Bowling Green, OH 7:00 p.m.
10/31 Northern Illinois Muncie, IN 7:00 p.m.
11/1 Western Michigan Muncie, IN 7:00 p.m.
11/7 Central Michigan Mt. Pleasant, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/8 Eastern Michigan Ypsilanti, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/13 Toledo Toldeo, OH 7:00 p.m.
11/15 Akron Muncie, IN 7:00 p.m.