After setting the goal of winning the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) tournament championship, No. 1 seed Ball State Men’s Volleyball (22-3, 13-2 MIVA) is just one match away from achieving their goal.
Facing No. 4 seed Lewis University (16-12, 7-8) April 20, it was a rematch of the 2021 tournament semifinal – but this time around, Ball State came out on top.
“[We’re] super excited,” freshman middle blocker Vanis Buckholz said. “We’re already moved on and thinking about Saturday and what we gotta do.”
The Cardinals swept the Flyers (25-23, 25-17 and 25-15) at home to advance to their first MIVA tournament final since 2009.
On offense, senior outside hitter Kaleb Jenness led Ball State with 10 kills while hitting .566 and graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson had a team-leading 28 assists. While the Cardinals were smooth in attack, they were stout in defense against Lewis.
“I really think the last few days of training, guys were really locked in,” head coach Donan Cruz said. “[We] put a lot of focus in serving and blocking defense and I though right when we started to catch our rhythm was when we were doing those things the best. I think we've probably had a pretty nice blocking stat line today.”
Ball State had 11 total blocks, keeping the Flyers at bay with a -.067 hitting percentage in set two and .130 in set three. Senior middle blocker Felix Egharevba led the Cardinals with five blocks.
“We got a lot better in defense this week and it was one thing that we want to focus on going into today,” Egharevba said. “We executed the game plan… Everybody came through and we had good time blocking.”
While not a part of the team for their 2021 semifinal loss to Lewis, Buckholz said he could sense Ball State’s feeling of redemption in the huddle.
“[It feels] amazing,” Buckholz said. “I can feel it coming…I love the energy from the home crowd, it always helps us through the game.”
The Cardinals will move on to the MIVA finals April 23 at Worthen Arena where they will face No. 6 seed Purdue Fort Wayne (16-12, 6-8 MIVA).