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Following the conclusion of their historic season that included a Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and first NCAA Tournament win since 1995 in the 2021 season, Ball State Women’s Volleyball went through a period of transition that included the departure of two assistant coaches, Tiffany Koors and Fritz Rosenberg, as well as four players.

Head coach Kelli Miller Phillips, entering his seventh season in charge of the Cardinals in 2022, has filled the coaching vacancies with Justin Wells and Tucker Bitting. Although he’s only been fully staffed for a few months, Phillips said Ball State now has the opportunity to thoroughly examine all possibilities ahead of the new season with fresh eyes.

“We’ve been through it all [and] we reviewed everything; we’re going to be the best we can be because this group has been so invested,” Phillips said. “They’ve been on it. I was too impressed with their foresight with everything… They just add their personality, a new layer that’s just going to build on what we’ve done. We’re just adding more parts, more spirits, more competitive types to this already great group we have.

The Cardinals also added six new players who will be ready to learn the culture of Ball State’s women’s volleyball program.

“I think when you have a strong program culture, it’s not about one person or two people or individuals, it’s really the vision of our program,” Phillips said. “It doesn’t matter when people come in and out, whether it’s staff players, it doesn’t matter, it’s if you have those core values ​​and those foundations that the program believes in and the players believe in, it will continue. to translate from year to year.”

While claiming 30 wins in 2021, senior Natalie Mitchem said Ball State’s off-court bond was key and something the eight-time MAC Tournament champions will look to replicate this season.

“I feel like a lot of our success lasted [season] was that we were very connected and we could play with each other because we were very bonded off the pitch,” Mitchem said. “I feel like he’s grown, although new people have arrived. We were able to connect with everyone who arrived and feel like they’ve been there the whole time.”

Sophomore setter Megan Wielonski, who was named the 2021 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Rookie of the Year, said the Cardinals’ team chemistry is good for newcomers in 2021 and doesn’t continued to grow only in 2022.

“As a freshman last year, I felt very, very welcome, and [I] felt part of the team right away,” Wielonski said. “So in sophomores now, I just want to continue like that with the freshmen, and I think the upperclassmen did such a great job… including everyone, which was so great .”

After landing on the All-MAC First Team and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Midwest rosters, Wielonski is aiming for the passer of the year award.

“I personally want to be Setter of the Year and then I want to try to be an honorable mention All-American or better, but that’s kind of my personal goal,” Wielonski said. “But I mean, as a team, definitely just [to] to win [the] MAC again and have a great new year.

The Cardinals will open the 2022 MAC season on the road against Central Michigan on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.

Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at [email protected] or on Twitter @daniel_kehn.

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