Women's volleyball coach Steve Shondell says the season isn't on the line this weekend. He may be right, but positioning for the Mid-American Conference Tournament is.
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Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is take care of business. Ball State could have been the victim of an upset with the biggest home-stand in years looming next week.
For three weeks coach Steve Shondell preached the importance of taking things one point at a time. The Ball State women's volleyball team has bought into this philosophy.
If the Mid-American Conference was worried about Ball State after last weekend's win over Ohio, the concern had to grow after Friday night. Ball State dominated Miami in the best offensive match of the season, hitting .367 while winning 25-18, 25-15, 26-24.
Ohio had tormented Ball State for seven years. Junior setter Brittany McGinnis was haunted by the memory of the season-ending loss to Ohio in the quarterfinals of last year's Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Ball State is 8-0 in home matches after defeating Kent State 3-1 Saturday.
Freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker got what she wanted. Baker wanted to beat Kent State, a school that recruited her for three years prior to her decision to play for Ball State. She also wanted to show she made the right decision.
One night after toppling Ohio, Ball State seemed like as easy pick to be the victim of an upset in a letdown match. But the opposite happened as Ball State rolled by Kent State in four sets Saturday.
Senior libero Alyssa Rio, junior setter Brittany McGinnis, and senior defensive specialist Hannah Sullivan were lost in the mess of white jerseys at center court. Yells of excitement and joy cut through the thunderous cheers from the crowd.
Ball State's victory against Ohio on Friday night provided coach Steve Shondell with a signature win for the women's volleyball program. It was also a statement win after an increased sense of urgency in practice.
Tonight's match with Ohio may be the biggest conference game in five years for Ball State, but it's the following match that has a particular importance to freshman outside hitter Kylee Baker.
Ball State knew exactly how important it was to beat Ohio. It would take an all out effort from everybody on the team to break a losing streak that dates back to 2003.
An unsettling feeling washed over the Ball State women's volleyball team last November as it walked off the floor in Toledo. Eighth-seeded Ball State had come up short in upsetting top-seed Ohio in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
For four matches Ball State had lived dangerously. Four times in the 2010 season the women's volleyball team had gone to the edge. Four times Ball State came back with a win.
Ball State lost a heartbreaker Saturday evening at Buffalo. After forcing a fifth set for the fourth time in 2010, the women's volleyball team was upended by Buffalo 26-28, 25-20, 19-25, 25-19, 13-15.
If Ball State was given all it could handle Thursday night at Toledo, Buffalo could up the ante.
Do-or-die scenarios turn up the pressure to a whole new level. Ball State women's volleyball team has been there, done that. They're also 4-0 in five-set matches.
Ball State didn't just post two wins in Mid-American Conference play this weekend, libero Allyssa Rio won MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week for the second straight week.
Ball State was just looking to defend its home floor during the weekend. Instead the Cardinals turned the weekend into a statement.
Whatever women's volleyball coach Steve Shondell said at intermission, it should be bottled and distributed to the rest of Ball State's teams.