Ball State men's volleyball grows win streak to 5 with victory over Queens

Ball State returned to Worthen Arena to open March. The Cardinals downed conference foe Queens to extend their winning streak to five matches.

Junior opposite hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva jumps to spike the ball against Queens March 1 at Worthen Arena. Ndavazocheva scored 16 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN
Junior opposite hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva jumps to spike the ball against Queens March 1 at Worthen Arena. Ndavazocheva scored 16 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

After a travel-heavy February slate that saw Ball State play on its home floor just twice, the Cardinals returned Friday to Worthen Arena, where they have earned three-quarters of their wins this season.

Ball State seized its opportunity in front of its fans and protected its home territory for the 10th time in the 2024 campaign. The No. 12 Cardinals downed Queens (6-12, 2-7 MIVA), a first-year member of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association, in three sets (25-22, 25-15, 25-16). 

“While we won 3-0, I was not as excited about set one because we took our foot off the gas, and our guys understand that a big focus of ours is trying to keep our momentum going,” Ball State head coach Donan Cruz said. “But, ultimately, we’ve got to be prepared to play out of those tough situations.”

The red and white’s triumph over their new conference foe extended their winning streak to five, setting a new season-high in consecutive victories. Cruz attributes the Cardinals’ mid-season surge to settling on a consistent lineup.

“We've finally landed on a lineup that I think works for us, and I've really started to gravitate around that,” Cruz said. “I think that continuity has helped us out a lot and has been a big part of the reason why we're in this win streak.”

Strong offensive play has been central to Ball State’s spurt of victories, which originated with its Feb. 10 triumph over Lindenwood, as the Cardinals eclipsed the .300 hitting mark in each of the four matches heading into Friday. The red and white stayed on theme against Queens, leaning on 39 kills — collected a .367 clip — to defeat the Royals.

Reigning MIVA Offensive Player of the Week Tinaishe Ndavazocheva paced the Ball State offense with his 14 kills at a .417 hitting percentage. The junior outside hitter said although he normally tries not to devote attention to weekly awards, he found this recognition to be especially satisfying due to a string of uncharacteristic performances leading into last week.

“I got that after a couple of bad games,” Ndavazocheva said. “Going into that game, I was like, ‘Okay, it’s not going great, so I have to step up.’”

MVB v Queens 2.JPG
Junior opposite hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva puts the ball over the net against Queens March 1 at Worthen Arena. Ndavazocheva had two digs in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

Two setters helped guide the Cardinals’ offense to its strong outing. Freshman Lucas Machado earned the starting nod, but left the court mid-way through set two due to a lower-body injury: He was replaced by fellow first-year Peter Zurawski. The rookie from Oak Park, Illinois, dished out 12 assists, which is the third-highest total of his young collegiate career.

“I’m just gaining confidence to play with the team, to connect with a whole new squad of guys and to learn a whole new game,” Zurawski said. “I feel like the more the more time I get, the better I am at adjusting.”

After logging double-digit blocks in three of its last five matches, Ball State again shined on the block, with nine rejections against Queens. Senior middle blocker Rodney Wallace logged the finest evening of any Cardinal blocker, as he recorded three blocks.

As has been the case in the majority of Ball State’s matches this season, the Cardinals were short-handed in their victorious effort, with five players unable to compete due to either injury or illness. Junior middle blocker Vanis Buckholz was perhaps the most notable scratch from the lineup, as he was sidelined due to a sprained ankle sustained in the Cardinals’ Feb. 23  match against Quincy.

The Cardinals maintained their second-place standing in the MIVA table following their Friday night triumph. The league leader, Ohio State, owns an 8-1 record but holds just a slight advantage in conference winning percentage: The Buckeyes lead the red and white by about three percentage points.

Ball State (13-7, 6-1 MIVA) will pursue its sixth-straight victory Sunday in the series finale against Queens inside Worthen Arena. The Cardinals have already collected season series sweeps against Wabash, Tusculum and Loyola Chicago so far this season, and will look to add the Royals to that list.

“Sunday is a good opportunity for us to make a quick turnaround, and now we have more experience playing this group,” Cruz said.

Contact Adam Altobella with comments on X @AltobellaAdam or via email at


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