The Ball State and IPFW men’s volleyball rivalry is among the top 10 best sporting events in Indiana, according to a recent newspaper poll.
The News-Sentinel, a national award winning newspaper in Fort Wayne, Ind., ranked the Cardinals and Mastodons rivalry on Tuesday the seventh best sporting event that a Hoosier should attend in their lifetime.
Ball State and IPFW are the only two Division I-II men’s volleyball teams in Indiana and have combined to win 26 MIVA championships.
The rivalry also made the News-Sentinel rankings because of the energetic arena environment the fans create for these matches.
“The Ball State matches are special,” News-Sentinel reporter Blake Sebring wrote in his column. “The college kids are actively involved in the outcome, and it feels like what a college competition should. They have energy and passion for the outcome, especially when the match is played after spring break and they’re all fired up.”
Along with the fans and teams, the rivalry has included two Hall of Fame head coaches with more than 500 career wins. Retired Ball State coach Don Shondell became the Cardinals first coach in 1960, while Arnie Ball, who played for Shondell in the mid-1960s, started the IPFW volleyball program in 1981.
The height of the Ball State-IPFW rivalry was in the mid-1990s with the 1994 MIVA championship match.
Ball State upset the four-time defending conference regular season champions IPFW to win its first MIVA title since 1990.
The upset also resulted in IPFW beating out Stanford to become the first MIVA team to receive the lone at-large bid to the four-team NCAA Tournament. That selection is still considered one of the most controversial selection committee decisions in men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament history.
Ball said previously that the rivalry between the Cardinals and Mastodons in recent years is not as intense as it was in the mid-1990s.
Ball State has not lost to IPFW since 2007. In addition, The 2011 season was the first time in more than 10 years that either team was not ranked in the final top 15 coaches poll.
The Ball State and IPFW men’s volleyball rivalry was one of 18 Indiana sporting events included in this News-Sentinel poll. The Indiana versus Purdue men’s basketball game was the top ranked sporting event in the state and the Indianapolis 500 was ranked No. 2.
For more on the News-Sentinel’s poll and to read the column about the Ball State and IPFW rivalry, click here.