After dropping in the NCAA rankings for the first time this season, Ball State men's volleyball faces two teams this weekend that they have had a lot of success against in the past.
The No. 12 Cardinals (11-4, 3-3 MIVA) are facing off against the bottom two teams in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association standings after playing two ranked teams last week.
Ball State will face the Lindenwood Lions at 8 p.m. ET on Friday in St. Charles, Missouri and then head two hours north on Saturday to face the Quincy Hawks at 8 p.m. ET.
The Cardinals first match will be against a team still searching for its first win of the season. Lindenwood (0-12, 0-7 MIVA) has struggled offensively this year with an average attack percentage of .209.
"They're making a few too many errors attacking and they're not playing great defense but they're still not getting blown out in matches," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said. "They're trying to get to a point where they're eliminating all the errors they're making."
Lindenwood is led by freshman middle blocker Sam Schindler who averages 0.39 service aces per set and senior outside hitter Jake Duckworth who leads the team with 126 kills and averages 2.93 kills per set.
"Jake has been one of the key and primary guys for them the past couple of seasons," Walton said. "He just has a very young team around him and they're still trying to find that moment where they can break through and get that first win."
Ball State is 8-2 in their last 10 matches against Lindenwood with both losses coming on the road.
The Cardinals have also seen a lot of success against Quincy. Ball State is 9-1 in their last ten regular season meetings with the Hawks (3-10, 1-6 MIVA), with the lone loss coming on the road in 2015.
One player that Walton is keying on for the Hawks is redshirt junior setter Thane Fanfulik. Fanfulik's serves have given the Cardinals trouble in the past.
"We've had a couple of matches where we've played them at their place and he's just put a lot of serving pressure on us," Walton said. "We have to make sure that we step on the court this weekend prepared for how they're going to play."
Walton said that it's important for the Cardinals to get quick starts in both matches to hinder any chance of a Lindenwood or Quincy upset victory.
"We want to be able to get momentum on our side and not give either team a chance to feel like it might be a night for them where something special is going to happen," Walton said.
The Cardinals are attempting to bounce back after losing consecutive matches for the first time this season.