Cardinals crowned MIVA regular season champions

It has been an eventful 10 months for Ball State Men’s Volleyball (20-3, 12-2 MIVA) and head coach Donan Cruz, but Cruz can’t help but focus on one thing: enjoying the moment with the program.

From Cruz being named head coach of the Cardinals June 16 to the Cardinals defeating then No. 1 Hawai'i (19-5, 4-3 BWC) twice in three days to, most recently, winning the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season championship after defeating Purdue Fort Wayne (15-12, 6-8 MIVA) April 9, it's all happened in less than a year.

Despite the success, Cruz said he doesn’t like to think about those things too often.

“My family is my biggest priority and our transition to Muncie has been great,” Cruz said. “I think that peace being so good has allowed me to be able to lead the team and the program in a good direction. And it's tough sometimes when you listen and are able to read some of the things about the success we're having and you know, how these are some new feelings for our program.  I think just being able to manage it and just take it a day at a time is really my goal as a coach.”

Following a sweep loss to Loyola Chicago (17-8, 11-3 MIVA) April 7, the door was open for the Ramblers to finish as co-regular season champions. Cruz said it was important for Ball State to move on quickly heading into their final game against the Mastodons.

"After Thursday it was tough,” Cruz said. “But It's just like, ‘hey, tomorrow [is a] new sun, new opportunity' and I think our guys managed the opportunity today and we were able to kind of move past what happened on Thursday real quick.”

Following Loyola's loss to Ohio State (13-13, 7-7 MIVA) earlier in the evening, all the Cardinals needed was a win over the Mastodons to claim the championship outright.

Members of the Ball State Men's Volleyball Team stand during the National Anthem before their game against Lindenwood University Feb. 24 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals dropped the first set to the Lions but proceeded to take the next three closing out the match victorious. Eli Houser, DN

Going to extra points at the beginning and end of the match, Ball State won in four sets by scores of 33-31, 19-25, 25-22 and 29-27 respectively to win the regular season championship outright.

On offense, senior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness and graduate student opposite hitter Angelos Mandilaris combined for 36 kills while graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson had a team-high 46 assists.

In the backcourt, Ball State had 39 digs while Isaacson, senior middle blocker Felix Egharevba and graduate student Will Hippe held the Cardinals to 14 total blocks.

“We talk a lot about trust and trust in what the coaches are going to do and we trust the players and what they see,” Cruz said. “I think that's been the biggest strength to this team this year is the ability to be able to try to put aside what your opinion is on some things and just trust what the coaches are asking the players to do and vice versa. You know, we've got a lot of veteran players on this team and there are times we were listening to what they're seeing on the court and trying to support some of that perspective as well.”

The 2022 regular season title marks the Cardinals’ first since 2002 and their first outright championship since 1997.

“I'm proud of them,” Cruz said. “I just told them to enjoy the moment… I'm pretty sure they're on cloud nine right now. A lot of these fifth-year guys and guys have been around the program more than a couple of years, I know this means a lot to them and it definitely means a lot to our staff as well.”

Ball State will play next in the MIVA tournament April 16-26 as the No. 1 seed. 

Contact Daniel Kehn with comments at or on Twitter @daniel_kehn.


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