Men’s Volleyball Plays At NJIT and Princeton This Weekend

Ball State vs. NJIT | March 10 | 6 pm ET | Watch | Live Stats
Ball State vs. Princeton | March 11 | 5 pm ET | Watch | Live Stats

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 NJIT: NJIT is the No. 15 team in the country as of March 10, 2022. The Highlanders enter Friday’s contest with an overall record of 9-5 and are coming off of a 3-1 loss to No. 2 Long Beach State on March 4. From 2013-present the Cardinals own a 5-1 ledger when playing NJIT. The last time these two squads faced off was in Newark, NJ on Jan. 25, 202 resulting in a 3-0 loss for Ball State (27-25, 25-16, 26-24). That game the Cardinals were led offensively by senior Caleb Jenness with 10 kills. NJIT is led offensively by Alessandro Negri with 146 kills.

SCOUTING PRINCETON: Princeton enters Saturday’s contest with a 5-10 overall mark and are coming off of back-to-back 3-1 losses to Harvard last weekend. Ball State leads the all-time series record over Princeton, 7-0-1 and has not faced the Tigers since Jan. 4, 2019 resulting in a 3-0 for the Cardinals in Muncie. That game Jenness led Ball State with 13 kills. It will also be a homecoming of sorts for Ball State assistant coach Christian Rupert who spent last season with the Princeton men’s volleyball program as a volunteer assistant.

IN THE NATION: The Cardinals are currently ranked No. 8 in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll despite not playing last weekend. 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 11.90 assists per set while Ball State as a team also holds the top spot for that same category (13.02). Senior middle blocker Felix Egharevbag is fourth in the nation in blocks per set (1,325) and Caleb Jenness is third in attacks per set (9.21) and second in kills per set (4.95).

CARDINAL RECAP: Ball State took a week off from play after posting a 2-0 sweep in MIVA action two weeks ago. BSU earned a 3-1 win over Lindenwood on Feb. 24 and then a 3-0 sweep vs Quincy on Feb. 25. After this weekend, the Cardinals return to MIVA action where they sit in second place with a 5-1 conference lender. Ball State will travel to Ohio State on March 16 for a 7 pm ET first serce in Columbus, Ohio.

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