MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State sweeps IPFW to advance in MIVA Tournament

Cardinals will face No. 1 seed Ohio State in semifinals

No. 13 Ball State University is now two matches away from a Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament title.

Ball State prevailed in a 3-0 (30-28, 30-23, 30-22) win against IPFW Saturday night in the quarterfinals of the MIVA Tournament at Worthen Arena.

"We had a really good scouting report on them and we felt like we matched up well against them," middle attacker Anders Nelson said.

Ball State has now swept the season series with IPFW with three victories against the Mastodons in 2010.

"We've got them this year and I know Coach [Ernie] Ball is not going to be happy about it," coach Joel Walton said. "He's going to go out and recruit and bring in some players that are going to be a lot more competitive next season."

The Cardinals were able to balance their offense as four players ended with double digit kills. Outside attacker Eric Schulte led the Cardinals in kills with 12 while Nelson, J.D. Gasparovic and outside attacker Lee Meyer ended the match with 11 kills each.

"That's exactly what you want to see," Walton said. "A plus-300 hitting percentage, and an offense that's running through a lot of different players. That's really ideal."

IPFW ran its offense through its outside attackers Elon Fyfield and Darryl Shank as both had a team-high 10 kills. Ball State knew where IPFW was attacking from the whole match because of them.

"We really trusted our defense – it was a key especially Fyfield and Shank," Meyer said. "We weren't quite there in game one and we made some adjustments in game two and game three."

Meyer credits Ball State's success to the Nelson and Gasparovic as IPFW could never find an answer for the middle attackers. Nelson hit at a team-best .600 attack percentage while Gasparovic led the Cardinals in blocks with seven.

"I have to give credit to our middles," Meyer said. "They've been performing admirably the entire season."

In the previous match with IPFW the Mastodons committed 23 service errors. Tonight the Mastodons stayed with the Cardinals with only 11 service errors.

"We knew that they were not going to play that way again the last time we played them," Nelson said. "We figured that both teams were going to up their game because it's tournament time."

Game one was the closest of the three as IPFW had 26-24 lead before Ball State ended the game on a 6-2 run.

"I feel like IPFW competed well in game one," Walton said. "It was a hard game to win. A sign of growth in this team is that we were in situations like that earlier in the season here in Worthen Arena and we lost those games. This team has grown this year and a further sign of growth is going to be what we do against the Buckeyes Wednesday."

Ball State is 19-10 on the season and advances to the MIVA semifinals to play No. 10 Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday. Ohio State is the two-time defending MIVA Tournament champions and has defeated Ball State twice already this season.

IPFW ends its season at 12-17.

"The second this match ended that was our thought," Nelson said. "We actually talked about Ohio State in our huddle; we'll be ready for them."