Andrew Mishler

Even if it was an ugly match, the final outcome couldn't have been more beautiful for the Ball State men's volleyball team.

Ball State defeated Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association rival IPFW 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-13) in a hard-fought match Saturday at Worthen Arena. 

The victory, along with Lewis' loss to IPFW Friday night, locks Ball State into the third seed in the MIVA tournament with a 17-10 overall record and a 7-5 conference record

The Cardinals got off to a slow start to begin the match, losing the first game 25-22.

While the slide of inconsistent play continued into the second game, Ball State, down 22-18, rallied to win the game 25-22 and tie the score at 1-1.

"I think the end of Game 2 was huge for us," senior Anders Nelson said. "We haven't fought out of holes very well this year, so we always say ‘We can do this, we can do this', but actually doing it helps you believe you can do it even more."

Following the second game, Ball State managed to overwhelm IPFW and force it into mistakes. 

Outside attacker Jamion Hartley, who racked up a season-high 17 kills against Loyola Friday, started the match at right-side attacker.

He finished with six kills and a .214 attack percentage in the match to go along with a match-high 10 digs against IPFW.

"It was great just coming back," Hartley said. "Tonight, I didn't play as well, but I think I just put a lot into last night. I just got to come out and play every day the same way."

Following the first game, Tommy Rouse was benched in favor of Marcus Imwalle at libero. Imwalle stayed in for the rest of the match.

"Tommy struggled passing a little bit last night, and that's such an important part of our team primarily because it sets up our two middles," Walton said. "Our staff talked about the possibility of putting Imwalle in that position, seeing if somebody with a little more length might help us defensively."

"I thought Marcus came in and did a nice job passing. He did a good job digging as well."

Sophomore Larry Wrather led the Cardinals with a team-high 12 kills. He also chipped in four digs. Senior J.D. Gasparovic ended the match with 10 blocks and five kills. 

After the match had ended, Nelson took one short look at the stats before saying Gasparovic deserved the MIVA Defensive Player of the Week award. 

Ball State will move onto its final two matches of the regular season next week, playing Penn State on Friday and St. Francis on Saturday. Both matches will be at home.