CSUN goes Midwest to face Ball State

Victor Corona

After almost two weeks off, No. 3 CSUN heads east of the state of Utah for the first time in more than two years, as they travel to Muncie, Ind. for a pair of matches on Friday and Saturday against Ball State at Worthen Arena.

“It is important for us to be playing Midwest teams and East coast teams,” said head coach Jeff Campbell. “We are playing in a hostile environment (Worthen Arena); this will certainly be a test for us. We have some Midwest guys on our team John Baker (Racine, Wisc.), Jim Wielebnicki (Darien, Ill.), who it will be good to go back to where they are from and to have their parents have an opportunity to see them play.”

The last time the Matadors played a Midwest team was back in 2008 when they traveled to the state of Illinois to play a pair of matches against Loyola-Chicago and Lewis. The Matador victories in 2008 over the Ramblers and Flyers improved their record against Midwest teams to 9-3 since 2000. In that time CSUN holds a 69-21 non-conference record, including a perfect 4-0 this season.

“I’m stocked, it’s almost a homecoming for me and my parents will be there and it will be really fun for them to actually see me play,” redshirt freshman Baker said. “I heard they (Ball State) bring a crowd and is in a pretty nice gym, so I’m excited.”

The Cardinals are the second team the Matadors have faced from Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) conference this season having just swept Chicago-Loyola two weeks ago at the Matadome.

Ball State is currently unranked and has a 12-7 overall record and 4-4 in conference. A pair of outside hitters Jamion Hartley, Lee Meyer and a middle blocker J.D. Gasporovic, lead the Cardinals. Hartley leads the team in kills per game at 3.19, Meyer is second with 2.96, while Gasporovic hits a team best .411.

“This is a practice game for us but it still counts on our record,” senior middle blocker Jacek Ratajczak said on the approach the team has against non-conference opponents. “This is the time to see were we are at against lower seeded teams so we want to crush them.”

This season the Cardinals have faced two MPSF teams in UCLA and Pepperdine and both took care of Ball state in straight sets. The Matadors are coming off back-to-back sweeps over UC Santa Barbara and Loyola-Chicago. CSUN has seven sweeps in 21 matches this season.