MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals want fierce crowd for matches vs. No. 3 Cal State Northridge
BSU wants atmosphere similar to recent UCLA home match
When it comes to school spirit, Ball State University senior Zach Brubaker takes matters into his own hands.
Brubaker is not a member of Ball State's men's volleyball team, but he is part of the Cardinals' biggest advantage coming into Friday's home match with No. 3 California State University Northridge.
"I'm just crazy," Brubaker said. "I like to get people excited for stuff, and we are playing the No. 3 team in the country and I just wanted to make sure the people knew."
Brubaker is in charge of an event run through Facebook for Friday's match titled "White-Out Worthen." The event is calling for students to wear white to the match and had almost 300 people attending as of Wednesday afternoon.
"Just the catch phrase ‘White-Out Worthen' [is] something people can grasp onto and hopefully do it," Brubaker said.
Brubaker will be making posters for the match and is hoping Friday's match breaks the attendance record for men's volleyball set two years ago when UCLA came to Muncie. The Facebook page was created by outside attacker Lee Meyer who has given control of the page to Brubaker for the season.
"We've been trying to promote it saying that ‘Hey, if you haven't been to a game, this is definitely the one to come to,'" Meyer said. "I talked to Zach and he said he would take it under his wing."
Meyer's involvement in organizations on campus has allowed him to build a personal fan base, as his friends go to the volleyball games to support him.
"It kind of started freshman year getting to know Ben Irwin," Meyer said. "Ben Irwin had a huge fan base; through Ben, I got to know his fans. Through that and getting involved in with CRU and Athletes in Action ... they come to the game to support me."
Brubaker is also an active member in Campus Crusade for Christ and that's how he and Meyer got connected for the Facebook group.
When asked about the Facebook group, coach Joel Walton thought it was created by someone within the athletic department. However, he said the team itself has done its share to promote the matches with Cal State Northridge through posters on campus and is hoping for a large crowd.
"It's about having that kind of crowd here and our guys using that energy they are given as a catalyst to help them play much better," Walton said.
Walton is hoping for a crowd similar to Ball State's match with UCLA two years ago.
"The year we played UCLA, the crowd was just dying for us to do good things," he said. "Whether it was a dig or a good swing for a kill, anytime we performed well you felt this energy coming from the crowd."
Senior libero Billy Ebel, who on Monday was named Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Defensive Player of the Week for the third time this season, was only a sophomore when the Cardinals played the Bruins.
"UCLA came in a couple of years ago and we had almost 4,000 people here," Ebel said. "Having that energy and having us play well is the best feeling you could ask for, so I think having a big crowd here is a big advantage for us."
Cal State Northridge (15-6) was No. 1 in the country earlier in the season. Ball State (12-7) is looking to win its first match against a ranked team this year. Everyone on the Cardinals agrees that a raucous crowd will be needed to knock off the Matadors.
"It will be a great advantage," Meyer said. "We think we have the best fan base in the MIVA, if not the nation."
Three reasons to go the volleyball match Friday and Saturday nights against Cal State Northridge
Free t-shirts will be passed out to fans during the match.
Despite losses against No. 1 Pepperdine and No. 5 UCLA over Spring Break, Ball State has proven they can contend with high-ranked West Coast teams. Four of the six games in those matches were decided by five points or less.
No. 3 Cal State Northridge is the highest-ranked team to come to Muncie in any sport this year. Some of the best volleyball players in the nation will be on the floor Friday and Saturday night.