By Brent Hinckley
With just over a month left in the regular season, the men”s volleyball team is looking to take advantage of its five-match home stand to prepare for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
It may not be an easy road, as the Cougars take on four top 10 teams in the next month, including No. 8 Ball State (14-2).
“They”re terrific,” coach Carl McGown said. “They have probably the two best middle blockers in the country.”
One of those middle blockers is 6″9” senior Paul Fasshauer. He played on the World University Games volleyball team last summer, in which the United States team won the tournament for the first time.
McGown said this weekend”s match will be similar to the match against Pepperdine, and the Cougars will need to play at their best.
Senior outside hitter Joaquin Acosta said last weekend”s victories helped the Cougars regain confidence they had lost following the Pepperdine matches.
A key for the Cougars this weekend will be establishing a balanced attack like they did in last weekend”s victories.
“If you don”t establish the middle blockers early, they”re just going to camp out on the outside hitters,” sophomore middle blocker Chris Gorny said. “It helps out Joaquin and Wall.”
As the Cougars are heading into the home stretch of the season, Acosta said the team still has areas it needs to improve.
“We need to make key digs, make key blocks, and just be more consistent with our serving,” he said. “We need to make those improvements, if we are going to peak at the right time.”
The Cardinals are returning all of their starters from last year and also have a height advantage over the Cougars.
“It”s a really good team playing a really good team,” McGown said. “There”s no way of knowing what the outcome will be.”
Head coach Joel Walton leads Ball State. Junior outside hitter Kyle Weindel leads the Cardinals in kills with 219 and averages 4.21 kills a game.
Fasshauer is the Cardinals leading blocker with 71 blocks on the season. As a team Ball State averages 3.16 blocks a game compared to BYU”s average of 2.83.
Since the Cougars and Cardinals began playing each other in 1990, the two teams have kept their series pretty close. BYU leads the series 5-4, and is 4-1 at home.
Both matches will be in the Smith Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.