Andrew Mishler

    Child's play is over for Ball State.

With a match against Lewis today and a match against IPFW on Saturday, 13th ranked Ball State will kick off conference play in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association this weekend.

Freshman setter Graham McIlvaine said starting MIVA play off with a pair of victories is vital.

"Starting the conference is the most important part of the season," McIlvaine said. Getting two conference wins at the beginning set us up for the rest of the season and would be great for us."

Lewis holds a 7-2 record and is playing in its first MIVA match of the season. In addition, the Flyers are starting two new players in their lineup at libero, and setter.

It's a near identical situation to the Cardinals. Ball State (5-3) has had newcomers McIlvaine and redshirt freshman Tommy Rouse starting at setter and libero, respectively, since the beginning of the season.

It's a transition has been gone well for both Ball State and Lewis.

"In both cases, if you asked me, I would say I'm pleased with Graham's progress to this point in the season," coach Joel Walton said. "And I bet if you asked (Lewis coach Dan Friend), he would say the same thing about (freshman setter) BJ Buldog. Their setter has come in and he's doing a nice job running their offense."

No matter how well Ball State prepares for its matches this weekend, Walton said the team will need to be ready for anything, regardless of how the talented Ball State's opponents look on paper.

"I think as we get into these first weekends of conference play, we're going to see a much truer positioning of teams," he said. "I don't know if there's anything extra as we look at any of our conference matches. They're all critically important to what we want to do at the end of the season."