The Ball State women's volleyball team lead the Mid-American Conference West Division on coming into the weekend, but fall now in a three-way tie between after their first conference lost of the season.

Ball State is now 9-9 (3-1) on the season. The little mistakes within each match are beating them right now. 

"We aren't making huge mistakes, just little silly mistakes, and they are costing us in our matches," head coach Steve Shondell said.

MAC West Division Standings

Northern Illinois - 3-1

Western Michigan - 3-1

Ball State - 3-1

Eastern Michigan - 1-3

Central Michigan - 1-3

Toledo - 0-4

The majority of mistakes are happening on the attack, the Cardinals lead the conference in attack errors.

The Cardinals had 34 attack errors in the 3-1 loss to Western Michigan, their highest total this season. Of those errors, 19 came from freshmen. But Shondell expected that from a team playing so many young players.

"Not many D1 programs have four or five freshmen playing as often as we do," Shondell said. "So we knew that there would be growing pains from them in doing so."

Through the growing pains, the freshmen have become some of the most productive offensive players on the court. Brooklyn Goodsel and Ellie Dunn led the attack this weekend, both collecting at least 20 totals kills over the two matches. 

"The freshmen have become huge assets to our team, really making it a good mix of youth and veteran players," Shondell said. "Those mistakes will go down with time and won't be such an issue, hopefully, when we get to the conference tournament."

On the other side of the net, the Cardinals have also dealt with some issues. Only once this season has Ball State won a match when allowing their opponent attack percentage to be over 20 percent.

Ball State kept Northern Illinois down to 18 percent, but Western Michigan hit at a 24 percent clip in the win.

"We switched up our defense in the third set against Western Michigan, and that really helped," Shondell said. "We just have to not come out slow and get going right away."

The defense will look to remain tough this weekend, as Central Michigan has the second-best attack percentage in the MAC at 21 percent. Last year, the Cardinals beat the Chippewas twice.

The Cardinals will return to play Oct. 9 as they travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich.