Back on top: Cardinals crowned MIVA Tournament champions for the first time in 20 years

Ball State Men's Volleyball (23-3, 12-2 MIVA) defeated Purdue Fort Wayne (17-13, 6-8 MIVA) April 23 to win its first Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament championship since 2002.

As the celebration began to die down, graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson made his way over to the media huddle with the MIVA tournament trophy in one hand and a golden volleyball in the other that read "All-MIVA Tournament Team." He said he had been waiting for a championship interview for a long time.

"Oh this is amazing," Isaacson said. "This is what we dreamed about when we got here, bringing back a title to Ball State and that's what we did tonight."

The Cardinals swept the Mastodons in three sets (28-26, 25-20 and 25-16) keeping them undefeated in tournament play with a 9-0 set record on their way to a championship.

"I thought for coaches we did a really good job of just trying to manage some of the, I wouldn't say anxiety, but the excitement around winning a championship game," head coach Donan Cruz said. "I thought in set one you saw a little bit of that. We were kind of hesitant, [we] weren't as clean as we thought we could be, but the guy stayed the course. I felt like we made the run in sets one and two around 17. Those are kind of pivotal moments for us to kind of create some separation. I just thought the guys kept rising above [and] battled through some uncomfortable situations but, man, Purdue Fort Wayne, they played crazy for two sets."

Jenness and graduate student opposite hitter Angelos Mandilaris combined for 38 Ball State points, just under half of the Cardinals' 78 total points. Isaacson dished out a team-high 40 assists and lead all players with two service aces.

"All season we knew we were one of the best teams," Jenness said. "We knew we were playing really well, we were hot in the moment and we're very capable of a lot of things. Just a great team effort and happy to be here."

Senior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness prepares to serve the ball in MIVA Finals against Purdue Fort Wayne April 23 at Worthen Arena. Jenness had 18 kills during the game. Amber Pietz, DN

Head coach Donan Cruz took championship shirts to his wife, Anna, and his three boys during the celebration and spoke about how important they had been in his first year at Ball State.

"I can't say enough about what she means to our family," Cruz said. "You've got to be able to have a partner that looks out for you and Anna does a really great job of taking care of our three sons. I'm not always able to put all my time and energy into things we need as a team and she makes that possible."

With 1,545 in attendance, the third-highest mark of the season, Isaacson stressed how important the Worthen Arena fans were during the match.

"It was rocking," Isaacson said. "It was hard for me to talk to my attackers it was so loud. We wouldn't want it any other way. It's a hard place for teams to come in a play well in and that makes it easier for us to get a W[sic]."

With a MIVA regular season and tournament championships in hand, Ball State will move on to the seven-team NCAA Tournament hosted at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California.

"We can say hang up there with all the other teams in the country," Jenness said. We deserve a spot up there. We want it. We're coming for it so be ready."

Ball State will play in the NCAA tournament May 1-7. Their first-round opponent will be announced April 24 during tournament selection.

Contact Daniel Kehn with questions or comments at daniel.kehn@bsu.edu or on Twitter @daniel_kehn. 

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