Ball State women's volleyball prepares for MAC tournament
Ball State women's volleyball has some work ahead of them to win the Mid-American Conference tournament at Ohio University.
The Cardinals will have to win four games in four days if they want to take home the conference tournament championship.
This season will be the second year of the new tournament format which is set up with eight teams making the tournament, and the bottom four seeds competing in matches to face either the third or fourth seed in the quarterfinals. The winners of the those two quarterfinal matches will go on to face the first and second seed in semi-final matches, with the winners of those matches facing in the finals.
November 19th, vs. 7th seed Buffalo (7-21; 6-10 MAC)
November 20th, vs. 3rd seed Kent State (19-9; 13-3 MAC)
November 21st, vs. 2nd seed Ohio (23-6; 13-3 MAC)
November 22nd, vs. Unknown Opponent
"This is the second year in this format and I think it works very well compared to how the tournament used to be handled," head coach Steve Shondell said.
Ball State earned the sixth seed this season, and they will face seventh-seed Buffalo (7-21; 6-10 MAC) in the first round. Earlier this season, the Cardinals beat the Bulls in straight sets at home.
Though the team has a long road ahead of them, the Cardinals' spirits are up and they feel they can win the tournament.
"You have to believe in yourselves that you can win, and honestly, all the girls have that mentality that we can take on any opponent," Shondell said. "Everyone has been playing well and this is what we have been looking forward to all season."
Ball State ended the regular season with a 3-2 victory against Central Michigan, knocking the Chippewas out of tournament contention.
The big win on senior night is more important for the team's momentum than having a bye week.
"We know from first-hand experience that playing in less games than your opponent doesn't determine if you win or not," Shondell said. "Western Michigan won in their first-round match and had a lot of momentum and confidence from that and came in and beat us in the quarterfinals last year."
Bye weeks hindered teams in the tournament last season, so it may to be beneficial for the Cardinals this year. In three out of four tournament matches last year, teams with byes lost against teams that played the day before. Western Michigan would win the tournament having to come all the way from the first round.
The big test for Ball State will be stamina and if they can keep up play in four straight matches. Shondell feels confident in his bench and that the team is healthy once more.
"Practices have gone well with last week being one of our best I feel, and bench players played in the last two games in situations where we really needed them and stepped up," Shondell said.
The first-round match against Buffalo will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19th.