Ball State men's volleyball looks for home-court advantage in conference tournament.
Ball State men's volleyball closing out regular-season play
The final weekend of the regular season will determine Ball State men’s volleyball’s final ranking in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.
No. 8 Ball State (20-6, 12-2 MIVA) will take on No. 13 Lewis (15-12, 8-6 MIVA) and No. 12 Loyola (17-7, 10-4).
The Cardinals need one win to secure a top-2 spot in the MIVA, which will give them home court advantage through the semifinals of the conference tournament if they win the first round. Ball State has not held a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament since 2008.
MIVA records (overall)
1 - Ohio State 13-1 (23-3)
2 - Ball State 12-2 (20-6)
3 - Loyola 10-4 (17-7)
4 - Lewis 8-6 (15-12)
5 - Grand Canyon 8-8 (15-11)
6 - Quincy 4-10 (18-20)
7 - McKendree 4-11 (9-13)
8 - IPFW 3-11 (10-16)
9 - Lindenwood 3-12 (5-16)
Head coach Joel Walton said the Chicago-area teams have typically been tough to play at because of the quality they play at.
“We’re fairly evenly matched; it usually gets down to the team that can pass the team that can keep their offense running despite the other team having a familiarity with you and knowing the things that you like to run,” Walton said.
While Ball State can afford to lose one match and remain in the same spot, it can potentially end up in a tie for second with Loyola with two losses. Tiebreakers are then decided by a combination of procedures from number of sets matches went to and the set scores.
“It’s a very meaningful thing to have those higher seeds,” Walton said. “We set up the tournament to reward teams for their regular season play for that very reason.”
Ball State has already defeated both Lewis and Loyola this season at home.
On Feb. 18, the Cardinals escaped a five-set match with a victory, led by junior outside attacker Mike Scannell’s 14-kill performance.
The night before, Ball State beat the reigning NCAA champions Loyola in four sets. Freshman libero Adam Wessel tallied a career-high 18 digs in the match.
“There is a very significant advantage to us playing in Muncie, being able to sleep in our own beds, having our home crowd behind us,” Walton said.
The Cardinals have had trouble getting past the Chicago-area teams in the tournament in past years.
The past three seasons, Ball State has lost in the MIVA tournament to the two teams.
Walton noted it is important to remember that these Lewis and Loyola teams are very different than the teams they have faced in the past. Both teams returned setters and middles, but have different left-side attackers from their previous season.
“We got to make sure that we’re not looking at the name on the shirt and giving too much credit to the players that we’re facing. We need to make sure that we understand who’s on the other side of the net against us,” Walton said.
The Cardinals are currently in second place in the MIVA conference, two games in front of Loyola and four games in front of Lewis.
“We’ve had a very good regular season to this point, and we want to finish strong this weekend and get as many rounds as possible in our own gym in the conference tournament,” Walton said.
Ball State begins its two-match road trip at Lewis beginning at 7 p.m. April 8.