Daniel Sipocz

Entering the final weekend in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association action, the odds of Ball State earning the No. 3 seed didn't look good.

The Cardinals needed help. A Lewis loss and a win over IPFW would give Ball State a shot.

Even with the odds stacked against it, everything fell into place. Ball State clinched the third seed in the MIVA Tournament. In the process, the Cardinals finished higher than predicted in the preseason.

"I really thought we'd achieve more than third," Ball State coach Joel Walton said. "I feel like this team still has unfinished work and have to prove that in the tournament."

With the No. 3 seed in hand, Ball State will avoid a potential matchup with Ohio State until the championship match of the MIVA Tournament.

More importantly for junior outside attacker Jamion Hartley, Ball State earned some respect.

"It's very disrespectful," Hartley said of the fourth place preseason MIVA prediction. "They always underrate us. They've done that ever since I've been here. That gives us something to work for."

That disrespect served as motivation all season for Ball State. The Cardinals wanted to prove they were better than fourth in the MIVA.

"I don't feel like we're a [fourth] place team in the MIVA," Hartley said. "We have yet to feel accomplished because we haven't beaten Ohio State or Loyola this year. All we've proved so far is that we're not a [fourth] place team."

Ball State will get another shot at Loyola with a win over Quincy in the MIVA quarterfinals.

"We've had some success against Lewis and Loyola in semifinal matches, but I'd venture to say we've struggled more against Ohio State in semifinal matches," Walton said. "Bottom line is first we have to take care of the quarterfinal round before we get the opportunity to try Loyola with one last chance in their gymnasium."

Ball State's conference schedule is complete. A three seed in the books, but the fight for respect isn't over. The Cardinals host the Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge and will face Big 10 foe Penn State on Friday night.