Rogers’ 24.5 points leads No. 14 Ball State past Purdue Fort Wayne

After slamming a season-high kills mark in Ball State’s last match, sophomore outside hitter Patrick Rogers’ contributions were at the center of the Cardinals’ win against in-state foe Purdue Fort Wayne.

Ball State men's volleyball celebrates the win over Purdue Fort Wayne  Feb. 15 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won 3-0 over the Mastodons. Mya Cataline, DN
Ball State men's volleyball celebrates the win over Purdue Fort Wayne Feb. 15 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals won 3-0 over the Mastodons. Mya Cataline, DN

Sophomore outside hitter Patrick Rogers was pivotal in Ball State’s winning effort over Lindenwood in a marathon five-set thriller on February 10. He logged a season-best 20 kills and 11 digs in the triumph over the Lions, which marked the third double-double of his debut campaign in Muncie.

The product of Rutherford, New Jersey, rolled over his fine play in the Cardinals’ most recent outing, stuffing the scoresheet against Purdue Fort Wayne in the Battle of I-69 rivalry match. On the heels of a scorching start that yielded nine kills and one block in the first set, Rogers tallied a new season-high in kills (22) at an efficient .515 hitting percentage, which paved the way to a 24.5-point outing.

“We're working much harder in practice and taking everything much more seriously, and we're playing together,” Rogers said. “I don't think we were playing together before, and now we're playing together.”

Rogers’ contributions again paid dividends Thursday, as he helped No. 14 Ball State defeat rival Purdue Fort Wayne (7-6, 1-3 MIVA) in three sets (25-19, 26-24, 25-23) on the Cardinals’ home court.

“Tonight was one of our more complete games,” Ball State head coach Donan Cruz said. “Our guys earned the win. They deserved that one, and they worked really hard in training these last few days.”

The decisive win over the Mastodons extends Ball State’s streak of success against the Hoosier state’s only other Division I men’s volleyball program. The Cardinals have now won eight consecutive matches against Purdue Fort Wayne, a streak that dates back to 2020 and pushed their overall series record to 82-33.

“I respect the crap out of Purdue Fort Wayne, the history of Ball State versus them and for us to be able to be winning that competition,” Cruz said. “That's kind of our job is to make sure we're doing our best effort.”

Rogers, despite this being his first season at Ball State, said he already embraces Ball State’s lone in-state rivalry, attributing his appreciation for the series to stories and guidance passed down by upperclassmen.

Not only did Ball State’s win continue its success against an in-state rival, but it also redeemed the Cardinals from an up-and-down road trip last weekend. The red and white fell to unranked McKendree in a sweep on February 9, and survived a scare from unheralded Lindenwood the following night.

“The set five win on Saturday was a huge one,” Cruz said. “That gritty win was what gave us the momentum coming into training on Tuesday, and then being able to turn it around and get the result we did tonight.” 

At the core of the red and white’s victorious effort was its success on the defensive end. The Cardinals limited Purdue Fort Wayne, a team that hit at a .301 clip in its previous 12 matches, to a .215 hitting percentage, and they logged seven blocks and 37 digs along the way.

Ball State’s block benefited from the return of Vanis Buckholz, who was absent in the Cardinals’ lineup across the last four matches because of a minor knee injury. The junior middle blocker recorded 1.5 blocks and two kills in his return.

Though defense was a cornerstone in its win, Ball State’s hitters also enjoyed a fine evening — recording 48 kills at a .306 clip. Rogers paced the Cardinals’ front row with 22 kills, and was followed by junior outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva, who logged 10 terminations.

Two setters donned the red and white Thursday, something that opposing teams have not seen from the Cardinals since the opening weeks of the season. Freshman Lucas Machado earned the starting nod and played for the majority of the match — recording 35 assists in the process — but freshman Peter Zurawski also saw some action in set three, and logged two assists.

The Cardinals’ victory established them as just the second team in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) to reach the three-win mark in conference play. Despite the red and white’s early success, they still have little breathing room, as six teams currently hold either two or three wins in the standings.

The Cardinals (10-7, 3-1 MIVA) will return to action Saturday, when they travel to No. 10 Loyola-Chicago (8-6, 3-1 MIVA) to close out the season series against the Ramblers — the red and white downed their MIVA foe in the conference opener on February 1.

“For us to have this split day, and to come out on a victory tonight was really big for our momentum moving forward,” Cruz said. 
Contact Adam Altobella with comments on X @AltobellaAdam or via email at


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