Ball State guarantees spot in MAC women's volleyball championship after 2 losses

The women's volleyball team reacts to losing the third set after winning the first two sets in the second game of the Active Ankle Tournament against Belmont on Aug. 28 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
The women's volleyball team reacts to losing the third set after winning the first two sets in the second game of the Active Ankle Tournament against Belmont on Aug. 28 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY

Season Records

Overall - 13-15

Conference - 7-7

Home - 9-1

Neutral - 2-4


Ball State locked up a guaranteed seed in the Mid-American Conference women's volleyball tournament this weekend, even if it was not how they wanted to earn it.

Over the weekend, the Cardinals suffered two tough losses, but their overall conference record was good enough to place them in the top eight teams in the MAC.

"We definitely would have liked to win and get in, but we are in it now and that was one of our first goals of the season," head coach Steve Shondell said. "Now we can go for our second one, and that is to win the tournament."

The Cardinals' two losses came from a five-set match against Western Michigan and from three straight sets to top-seeded Northern Illinois.

Road matches have not been the Cardinals' strong suit this season, as they are 2-10 in away matches in 2015.

Both losses this past weekend were on the road, bringing their final road record in the conference to 2-6, having not won on the road since the end of September.

"We played hard against Western [Michigan], and they made some great plays to beat us in the fifth," Shondell said, "Against Northern [Illinois], the girls seemed to be sluggish coming off such a heartbreaking loss the night before and never got going right against the Huskies." 

Ball State's current 7-7 conference record will place them in the bottom half of the conference tournament rankings, even if they close out next weekend with a pair of home wins. 

Although Ball State locked in a tournament spot, they will need to overcome something they have struggled with all season: playing on the road. 

Though the team has not been able to pick up the victories, they do not blame the road, rather seeing it as playing tough opponents and just coming up short. 

Time is closing in until the MAC tournament begins. Shondell said he knew it would be a tough weekend but would be a great learning experience so that his girls know what to work on for the upcoming tournament. 

"[Western Michigan and Northern Illinois] are two very tough and hungry schools, so I knew we would be able to see what things we needed to work on," Shondell said. "It's always been about being tournament ready, and so going against tough teams, win or lose, is good for us."

Western Michigan (14-15, 10-4) and Northern Illinois (16-10, 12-2) are the top two seeds in the MAC West Division. 

While the MAC championship is not at Worthen Arena, it will not necessarily be a road game since it will be hosted on a neutral court. The tournament will be at Miami University, so unless they face the Redhawks, it will be an even playing field. 

"It'll be interesting to see how it goes, being on a neutral court. It definitely is a different type of an environment that the team is looking forward to," Shondell said. 

While this will not be a true road contest, the Cardinals have not played particularly well in neutral locations. This season, they are 2-4 while playing in neutral matches.

Tournament is close, and the Cardinals have one more weekend of the regular season, returning home for the last two matches of the season. 

These last few weeks are the most important in getting them in post season shape.

"We have two more tough opponents looking to gain momentum for the tournament, so that kind of competition will be great for us," Shondell said. "Now that we don't have to worry about making the tournament, we can put all our energy to being ready for it."

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