MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Three conference matches remain for Ball State

Cardinals fighting for position in MIVA Tournament

Time is running out for No. 15 Ball State University.

The Cardinals have three matches remaining with Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association schools to improve its seeding before the MIVA tournament, which is less than three weeks away.

"I'm pleased with the guys taking care of business at IPFW," coach Joel Walton said.

The Cardinals swept the season series with the Mastodons, capturing a 3-0 victory Saturday night. The Cardinals clinched a top-four finish in the MIVA standings and have secured a home match in the tournament starting April 24.

Ball State no longer has to worry about home-court advantage for the first round.

"We played at a mediocre level [Saturday]," Walton said. "We were fortunate that IPFW made a lot of mistakes that allowed us to play an average match and still win."

Ball State carries its 14-9 (5-4 MIVA) into Lewis University on Tuesday night. Lewis has a 5-3 MIVA record and is in third place. No. 13 Ohio State University is in second at 8-1, and  No. 12 Loyola University sits atop the standings with a perfect 10-0 MIVA record.

The victory over IPFW helped Ball State keep pace with Lewis.

"It's a big conference match," J.D. Gasparovic said. "We were definitely pumped. we wanted this conference win."

Middle attackers Gasparovic and Anders Nelson led the team in kills on Saturday with eight each. IPFW was unable to force Ball State to use their outside attackers like they did in the earlier encounter this season in Muncie.

"Our passers did a nice job handling IPFW's serves," Gasparovic said. "So we just did our job."

The Mastodons had no aces to make up for the 23 service errors they committed.

"We never let them get comfortable," Walton said. "They served horrible. They just gave us a lot of easy points."

Outside attacker Eric Schulte led Ball State's defensive effort with a team high seven blocks. Nelson was second with six blocks on the night.

The previous match with IPFW went five games. The players look at Saturday's sweep as a sign of progress as the season has gone on.

"We didn't come out with as much energy as we should have early in the year," Gasparovic said. "We've improved in that area that we don't fall down into early deficits."


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