PREVIEW: Ball State men's volleyball vs. George Mason and NJIT
Ball State men's volleyball returns to Worthen Arena this week for matches against No. 12 George Mason University and New Jersey Institute of Technology. The No. 13 Cardinals are 6-1 on the season and have a 2-0 record at home with wins over No. 14 Penn State and St. Francis.
The Cardinals will face the George Mason Patriots at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and will wrap up the week with a match against the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27.
George Mason is 4-2 on the season, but both losses were to ranked opponents, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 10 Loyola.
- Jan. 26: Home vs. George Mason at 7:30 p.m.
- Last meeting: Win, 3-2 (19-25, 18-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-9) on Jan. 30, 2016
- Jan. 27: Home vs. NJIT at 7:30 p.m.
- Last meeting: Win, 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-15) on Jan. 29, 2016
"They've put together a really good squad and they have most of the guys back from the team that had success last season," head coach Joel Walton said about George Mason.
Last season the Patriots finished 18-12 and defeated St. Francis for the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association title.
The Patriots are led by senior opposite hitter Jack Wilson who leads the team with 72 kills and averages 3.6 kills per set. Coach Walton coached Wilson in the World University Games in 2015.
"He's been a real driving force on their team," Walton said. "He might take 50 to 60 swings a night and the rest of their attackers will only get 15-20 swings, he's just an offensive juggernaut."
NJIT is 3-2 on the season, but like George Mason, both of their losses have been to ranked opponents, No. 6 Lewis and No. 10 Loyola.
The Cardinals will be focusing on senior outside hitter Jabarry Goodridge, who leads NJIT with 77 kills and averages 4.05 kills per set.
"Goodridge is just physical as heck," Walton said. "We know he's going to get some kills and hit a variety of shots, we just don't want him to have a career night against us."
Coach Walton called Goodridge and George Mason's Jack Wilson "two of the East Coast's elite attackers".
"We're going to look at defensive schemes that allow us to have a good number of blockers in front of them," Walton said. "Our serve will be important both nights to set up good defense."
The Cardinals finished their two-game road trip last weekend with two wins against Harvard and Sacred Heart. Coach Walton said that he was very impressed with the team's passing in the two matches.
"It's something that I'm pleased we're doing at a high level right now," Walton said. "We're doing a good job in seeing diversity in both who we're setting the ball to and where we're getting the ball."