The lights go down, 50 Cent’s “Many Men” begins to play and the starting lineups are introduced as the crowd in Worthen Arena rises to their feet and comes together around Ball State Men’s Volleyball.
The energy inside Worthen Arena was constant throughout Saturday’s quarterfinal sweep (25-20, 25-19, 25-15) for the No. 10 Cardinals (19-8, 11-3 MIVA) in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament against the No. 8 seed Quincy.
“We have our best games whenever we play at home,” second-year outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva said. “The fans play a big role in our 3-0 wins.”
Ball State won the MIVA regular season crown April 8 after defeating Purdue Fort Wayne and earned themselves the No. 1 seed for the tournament.
After winning the conference tournament in 2022, head coach Donan Cruz attributed the team’s ability to repeat to the leadership displayed on and off the court.
“The guys’ actions speak louder than the things they say,” Cruz said. “Coming into an entirely new team this year and having [fifth-year outside attacker] Kaleb [Jenness], [fifth-year middle blocker] Felix [Egharevba] and [fourth-year setter] Dave [Flores] come in and set the tone has been great.”
The Cardinals maintained composure throughout Saturday’s match and were able to best the Hawks (8-19, 1-13 MIVA) in almost every category on the stat sheet. Ball State’s defense played their role effectively, holding Quincy to a .113 hitting percentage.
Ndavazocheva led the way on offense with a game-high 13 kills in his first taste of postseason MIVA action.
“To be honest, at first, I was thinking about it a lot,” Ndavazocheva said. “I realized that this is the same volleyball we have been playing…it’s the intensity [level that is different].
This was the third time both teams have played this season, with the Cardinals winning the previous two.
“Preparation [for Quincy] was tough because there was a whole six days in between matches and typically we do not have that much time unless it is kind of the spring break,” Cruz said. “For us to be consistent in training in the last six days required a lot of discipline out of our team and I think our guys are focused on consistency in every aspect of the team’s performance from our volleyball to our attitude.”
Ball State will play the winner of the No. 4 seed Lewis and No. 5 seed Purdue Fort Wayne Wednesday inside Worthen Arena in the semifinal round with a time to be determined.