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On Campus

IPFW volleyball on roller coaster

– As his 13-12 team prepares for its MIVA tournament opener at Ball State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, IPFW volleyball coach Arnie Ball tosses out the roller coaster analogy.

“Having gone down there and won, then turn around and have them come up here and beat us, that’s been this massive roller coaster all year long,” Ball says.

“Roller coasters can be big or small, obviously, but most generally, when you have roller coasters, it’s not the fact you’ve beaten really good teams and lose to not-so-good teams; it’s usually the other way around. Usually you beat the lesser-talented teams and get beat by the better teams. This is kind of a backwards deal.”

And Ball still isn’t sure whether this IPFW coaster is on its way up or headed straight down.

The Mastodons are hot on the heels of a 3-0 home victory over ninth-ranked and MIVA’s top-seeded Lewis. It was a win that ended IPFW’s three-match losing streak, which included a 3-0 loss to the league’s worst team, Quincy, whose only MIVA victory came at the expense of the Mastodons.

And yet, here was an IPFW team that earlier had beaten No. 8 Ohio State, (now No. 9) Ball State and No. 10 Penn State.

By now you grasp the roller coaster concept as IPFW visits the Cardinals (20-5), who have won 12 consecutive matches. Both teams own a 3-1 victory over the other.

“A lot of this is frustrating for us, but it’s frustrating for the kids, too,” Ball said. “I’m not sure they can put a finger on it, either.”

A few have an idea.

“What’s the difference of getting swept by Quincy, and then we go sweep Lewis?” libero JW Kiekhefer asks his own question. “I think the difference is when we have confidence in ourselves and in our abilities, and we come out and feel that and feed off it with each other, it’s what gets those games going. In the losses we have, especially to some teams we shouldn’t lose to, it’s because we couldn’t get that going from one person and feed off it.”

Kiekhefer is a junior. Barring injury, he has another season remaining.

For senior middle blocker Rob Samp, he can only hope that the consistency that has been lacking will be found Saturday.

“At the end of the day, sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other, so it’s disheartening at times,” he said. “The only thing we can do is just bring energy and enthusiasm onto the court so they can feed off of that. In terms of what we say to our players, we’ve got this opportunity to do some big things this year – a better chance than any other years I’ve been a part of this team.

“ ‘Guys, just follow us; follow our lead. We’ll take you through it.’ ”

Athletes of note

Indiana Tech freshman Josh Fisher (Northrop) was named the WHAC baseball pitcher of the week. Fisher had two saves for the Warriors. In three scoreless, hitless innings, he struck out five batters. In six appearances, he owns a 0.77 ERA. … Tech junior Kendall Guthrie was named the WHAC women’s lacrosse player of the year. Guthrie had 49 goals and 11 assists to lead Tech to the WHAC tournament title.

Steve Warden covers area colleges for The Journal Gazette. He may be reached by email at stwarden@jg.net, by phone at 260 461-8477, or by fax at 260 461-8648.

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