MUNCIE, Ind. – – After playing its first three weekends on the road, the Ball State women’s volleyball team returns to Worthen Arena for the first time during the 2021 regular season against Northern Kentucky.
The Cardinals (8-2) and Norse (4-3) will battle at 6:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN3. The seven-camera broadcast will mark the first ESPN show of the year for Ball State Sports Link.
Sports Link’s Ryan Klimcak and Lexi Eblen will team up for Friday’s coverage, with Cameron Surdyk producing and Tristan Russell directing.
Ball State enters the weekend with an 8-2 overall record, coming off a tough challenge at the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament hosted by Iowa, where the team went 1-2. The big win … a 3-2 (29-27, 25-15, 23-25, 18-25, 15-12) victory over the host Hawkeyes.
Prior to last weekend, the Cardinals went undefeated at both the GBD Invite (4-0) hosted by Green Bay and the TRU By Hilton Dayton Beavercreek Invitational (3-0) host by Wright State.
Overall, Ball State’s 8-2 record is tied with Toledo as the best in the Mid-American Conference entering the final weekend of non-conference play.
One of the keys to the Cardinals’ strong start to the season has been the team’s ability to spread out its offense and keep opponents guessing on every swing. Four different Ball State players enter the NKU series averaging at least 2.00 kills per set, while seven are smashing at least 1.21 kills per set.
Junior opposite Natale Mitchem leads the offense at 2.82 kills per set, while graduate transfer Jaclyn Bulmahn is a close second at 2.68.
BSU’s offense is also connected at a .234 clip this season, which is the second-best attack percentage in the MAC, trailing only Toledo’s .235 mark. In fact, the Cardinals have hit .200-or-above in nine of its 10 matches this season, including finishing last weekend’s Cy-Hawk Series Tournament with a combined .251 rate of success.
Playing a large role in guiding the offense has been freshman setter Megan Wielonski who is fourth in the MAC with a 9.97 assist-per-set average. In fact, Wielonski set Ball State to a .476 attack percentage in the sweep of St. Thomas (Aug. 27), which ranks as the third-best single match team performance in program history.
Sophomore libero Kate Vinson leads the Ball State defense with a 4.29 dig-per-set average, which also ranks fifth in the MAC so far this season. At the net, junior middle Marie Plitt has a team-best 0.84 blocks-per-set average, while sophomore middle Lauren Gilliland is not far behind at 0.78.
As a team, the Cardinals are limiting opponents to a .206 attack percentage and rank fourth in the MAC at 2.04 blocks per set and seventh in the league at 14.71 digs per set.