Nathan Pace

No. 13 Ball State University's season comes down to tonight's match.

Ball State travels to No. 10 Ohio State University for a Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament semifinal. The Buckeyes are the MIVA regular season champions and two-time defending tournament champions.

"They are a very good team playing with a lot of confidence," Ball State coach Joel Walton said.

Ohio State has swept Ball State twice this season: in Muncie on Feb. 5 and in Columbus, Ohio, on April 16.

Ball State is 19-10 and has a 2-8 record against ranked opponents. Ohio State is 20-5 and has defeated Ball State seven straight times.

"I don't think we're not confident enough," libero Billy Ebel said. "It's just that when we get into that situation where we are playing them, we can't do what we need to. I've beaten
Ohio State in my four years, and getting the rest of the younger guys and older guys to believe that, I think, is the most important thing."

The Buckeyes earned a first round bye as the No. 1 seed in the MIVA Tournament. Fourth-seeded Ball State defeated IPFW 3-0 in Worthen Arena on Saturday in their quarterfinal match to advance to the semifinals.

Walton said he does not believe Ohio State's home court advantage will be much of a factor.

"[St. John Arena] is fairly similar to our arena," he said.

Ohio State's setter Steven Kehoe and outside attackers John Klanac and Shawn Sangrey are First Team All-MIVA selections, and Kehoe was named the MIVA Player of the Year.
Klanac and Sangrey had 18 and 17 kills, respectively, against the Cardinals when the two schools met April 16.

"To stop those guys is impossible," Walton said. "We want to hold them below season averages in efficiency and kills per game average. They've got good offensive players at every position. Serving will be critical."

Ohio State has a larger budget than Ball State and most other MIVA schools, but Walton that won't be an excuse for not beating the Buckeyes.

"The true statement is that Ohio State has more scholarship dollars than Ball State," Walton said. "I think the group of guys that we have right now are capable of beating Ohio State."