By: Alec Runyan
Ball State Sports Link
After playing their first 10 matches on the road, Ball State women’s volleyball makes its home debut this Friday against the Northern Kentucky Norse.
WHERE: Worthen Arena | Muncie, Indiana
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. ET
WATCH: ESPN 3
LISTEN: SL Digital via @bsusportslink
Although the Cardinals finished in seventh place in last year’s MAC standings, there’s a lot to look forward to after returning nearly the entire roster.
Ball State started the season a perfect 7-0 before dropping its first two matches of the year to Syracuse and Iowa State last weekend in Iowa City.
Now with an 8-2 record, the Cardinals are off to the program’s best start since 2011.
Junior outside hitter Natalie Mitchem has stepped up as the Cardinal’s new favorite offensive weapon after losing Kia Holder to graduation, the team’s leader in kills a season ago.
Mitchem has reached double-digit in kills in six matches so far, including 16 in a win against Wright State to tie her career-high. In BSU’s big win over Iowa last week, Mitchem finished with 15 kills while hitting at a .419 percentage, a season-high.
Mitchem currently leads the MAC in kills (107), with a hitting percentage of .311 (tenth in the MAC).
Marie Plitt, Lauren Gilliland, and newcomer Megan Wielonski have also shown a lot of productivity at the net for the Cardinals.
Plitt leads the team with 32 blocks and to go along with 77 kills, both are the fifth most in the MAC. Gilliland, getting her first non-conference experience due to last year’s MAC only schedule, has 70 kills including a career-high 12 against Wright State.
Freshman Megan Wielonski took no time getting used to the collegiate level as she currently is the MAC leader in assists (379). In Ball State’s championship match against Marshall in the Dayton Beavercreek Invitational, Wielonski dished out 58 assists in the five set victory.
Leading the defensive charge for the Cardinals has been sophomore libero Kate Vinson.
After playing in all 21 matches last year as a freshman, Vinson has been one of the best defensive specialists in the MAC in 2021. She’s tallied the second most digs (163) and the fourth highest average digs per set (4.29) in the conference through the first 10 games.
Vinson was also named, MAC West Division Player of the Week, earlier this month after finishing with 22, 16, and 29 digs and helping the Cardinals go 3-0 during those matches.
Ball State (8-2) looks to get back on track as they face off against Northern Kentucky (4-3) in a doubleheader beginning this Friday, September 17 at 6:30 p.m.
The match will be broadcasted by Ball State Sports Link on ESPN 3.