no. 7 Ball State (8-1, 2-0 MIVA) vs Purdue Fort Wayne (8-4, 2-0 MIVA) | Thursday, Feb. 17 | 7 pm
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no. 7 Ball State (8-1, 2-0 MIVA) vs Loyola Chicago (6-5, 2-0 MIVA) | Saturday, Feb. 19 | 3 pm
Last meeting: Ball State 3, Purdue Fort Wayne 0 (2/6/21)
Series History: Ball State leads the series 79-32
Last meeting: Loyola Chicago 3, Ball State 1 (3/27/21)
Series History: Loyola Chicago leads the all-time series 36-24
NEW ERA: First year head coach Donan Cruz has started the year off strong so far this season leading the Cardinals to five-straight wins which includes back-to-back victories over No. 1 Hawai’i… Prior to taking over the helm of the Cardinals, Cruz was a four-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Coach of the Year at Grand View University … Just the fourth head coach in the storied history of Ball State men’s volleyball, Cruz led the inaugural Grand View men’s team to a 13-13 mark in 2012 season, on his way to compiling a 211-55 overall record with the Vikings … He concluded his Grand View career with the best winning percentage in NAIA men’s volleyball history at .793.
ALSO NEW ON THE STAFF: Joining Cruz on the Ball State staff are Midwestern Volleyball Association (MIVA) standout and former Lewis University star Mike Iandolo and BYU men’s volleyball alumnus Christian Rupert … Iandolo was a two-time All-MIVA First Team selection and spent the last three season as the head coach at the University of Charleston … Rupert helped lead the Cougars to a pair of appearances NCAA Division I/II Men’s Volleyball Championship Match, and following a brief professional career, spent two seasons as a volunteer assistant at Princeton.
SCOUTING PURDUE FORT WAYNE: Purdue Fort Wayne enters Thursday’s contest with an overall record of 8-4 and a 2-0 ledger in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) action. The Mastodons opened MIVA play last week with a 3-1 win versus Lindenwood on Friday, Feb. 11 and a 3-0 against Quincy on Saturday, Feb. 12. PFW is led offensively by junior outside hitter Jon Diedrich with 183 total kills. Diedrich is averaging 4.07 kills per contest and has 16 service aces. A little history for Thursday’s match, the sophomore opposite hitter Dyer Ball has family ties to Purdue Fort Wayne’s men’s volleyball program as Ball’s grandfather, Arnie Ball, not only played for the Cardinals from 1966-67 but he was also the head coach at Purdue Fort Wayne and was inducted into the MIVA Hall of Fame in 2018. His father, Lloy Ball, played at Purdue Fort Wayne where he has been described as the most decorated athlete in school history after being a four-time NCAA All-American and four-time US Olympian.
SCOUTING LOYOLA CHICAGO: Loyola Chicago comes to Ball State Saturday with an overall record of 6-5 and an undefeated start in MIVA action with a 2-0 mark. The Ramblers are coming off two MIVA victories after defeating Quincy by a score of 3-0 on Thursday, Feb. 10 and then Lindenwood 3-1 on Saturday, Feb. 14. The Ramblers are led by redshirt freshman outside hitter Parker Van Buren who has 148 total kills so far this season and a .352 hitting percentage. The last time the Cardinals beat Loyola was in five sets on Feb. 22 at Chicago (23-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23, 15-8). Senior Caleb Jenness had 23 kills that contest.
IN THE NATION: The Cardinals moved up to a No. 7 ranking in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll. The highest Ball State has ever been ranked No. 5 and that was in the final poll in 1995. Graduate senior setter Quinn Isaacson still ranks first in the nation among his setting peers with 12.10 assists per set while Ball State as a team also holds the top spot for that same category (13.21). Senior middle blocker Felix Egharevbag is sixth in the nation in blocks per set (1,323) and Caleb Jenness is third in attacks per set (9.17) and second in kills per set (4.80).
CARDINAL RECAP: Ball State opened MIVA action with a 2-0 mark last weekend after pulling off the 3-0 sweep over No. 6 Lewis followed by a 3-1 victory at McKendree on Saturday. for the week, Caleb Jenness led the Cardinals with a total of 36 kills. defensively, Felix Egharevbag tallied 15 total blocks.
NEXT MATCH: The Cardinals will host Lindenwood (Feb. 24) and Quincy (Feb. 25) at 7 pm ET in Worthen Arena.