Ball State men’s volleyball sweeps Queens, advances to MIVA semifinals

For the third time this season, the Cardinals defeated Queens in three sets inside Worthen Arena. The red and white will host their semifinal match Thursday.

Junior opposite hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva tips the ball over the net against Queens April 13 at Worthen Arena. Ndavazocheva scored 15 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN
Junior opposite hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva tips the ball over the net against Queens April 13 at Worthen Arena. Ndavazocheva scored 15 points in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

Ball State men’s volleyball’s Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament title run in 2022 — its most recent championship effort — opened with a Saturday evening match inside Worthen Arena. The first-seeded Cardinals downed the eighth-ranked Quincy Hawks in three sets to advance to the semifinal round.

The red and white’s 2024 postseason began in a strikingly similar fashion. Ball State, entering as the No. 1 seed in the MIVA Tournament, matched up against the eighth team in the conference standings in another Saturday-night clash, and earned a parallel outcome.

The Cardinals defeated Queens (9-21, 2-14 MIVA) in three frames (25-22, 25-18, 25-18) on their home floor in the MIVA quarterfinals — marking the red and white’s fourth-straight victory in the first round of the league tournament.

“I knew that Queens was going to come in and be ready to go,” Ball State head coach Donan Cruz said. “Eventually, we started to wear on them, and that's what you saw in set two and three.”

Ball State’s opening-round sweep of Queens is not an isolated occurrence, as the Cardinals tallied two 3-0 victories against the Royals in the pair of regular season matches. Cruz acknowledged there is occasionally some difficulty in motivating the red and white to intensely prepare for a team that they had previous success against, while also mentioning his efforts to combat pre-match apathy.

“I thought we did a decent job of preparing the guys not to not to take anything lightly,” Cruz said. “It’s more of taking the court at home with some sense of pride, and if you do that, then I think it takes away from this lackadaisical approach to playing a team we think we're better than.”

Though Ball State’s hitters trudged through a slow start in the opening moments of set one, the Cardinals’ offense picked up its production over the course of the match and was central to the winning effort. 

The red and white recorded 34 kills at a .355 hitting percentage, which marked the 18th time that Ball State has eclipsed the .300 threshold this season. Senior outside hitter Trevor Phillips and junior outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva paced the Cardinals in kills, as they logged 11 and 10 terminations, respectively.

Ball State’s strong offensive production intersected with notable marks on defensive end and at the service line. The Cardinals recorded six blocks en route to limiting Queens to a .203 hitting percentage, and they fired six service aces.

After prevailing in its MIVA Tournament opener, Ball State (21-9, 13-3 MIVA) advances to take on Lindenwood (15-11, 9-7 MIVA) in the semifinal. A win in their second postseason match would lift the Cardinals to the championship match just two days later, making the next week the squad’s most critical stretch of the campaign.

Given that a bid to the NCAA Tournament will be attainable in the coming days, Cruz emphasized the intensity with which he and his staff will prepare the Cardinals for their consequential week of play, but said that he hopes the red and white will retain the same mindset that it has clung to the entire season.

MVB v Queens MIVA 1.JPG
Senior opposite hitter Dyer Ball celebrates getting an ace to win the game against Queens April 13 at Worthen Arena. Ball had two aces in the game. Mya Cataline, DN

“We value simple over complex, and we’re trying to get the guys to just keep in our routine that has been working,” Cruz said. “We know that Lindenwood has been on a good streak, but a lot of their streak was at home when they're in their gym. You feel good about getting them here at home.”

As the highest remaining seed in the conference tournament field, Worthen Arena will play host to both semifinal matches and the following championship. Ball State earned the right to host last season’s MIVA Tournament final, a match that it dropped to Ohio State on its home floor.

Last year’s bitter end has ignited a mindset among the Cardinals’ roster to reverse their fortunes. Ndavazocheva, who anchored the 2023 roster that fell in the MIVA title match, highlighted his and his teammates’ focus.

The next week is gonna be so tough, starting on Monday,” Ndavazocheva said. “Even tonight, people are not even doing anything crazy. They're going home and you know, resting because we know how big of a deal this is.”

Middle blocker Rodney Rogers, who transferred to Ball State this season after spending three seasons at Lindenwood, said he’s especially excited for the coming week of play because he never advanced past the first round of the MIVA Tournament as his former school.

“This is my first time moving forward in the conference tournament ever, so I really don't know what that's gonna look like,” Wallace said. “But, I know that the rest of the guys on the team and the coaches know what to do. I'm just out here for the ride.”

Though outside hitter Patrick Rogers — who was recently named to the All-MIVA First Team — and middle blocker Vanis Buckholz did not suit up against Queens, Cruz said the Cardinals will likely benefit from their services as they eye a conference championship next week.

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


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