A non-conference match against Cal State Northridge and a rematch against Ohio State highlights the 2012 Ball State regular season schedule that the team released Tuesday.
Ball State finished last season third in the MIVA and lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The Cardinals have five starters returning for the upcoming season, including All-MIVA outside attacker Larry Wrather.
Check out the five things to take away from Ball State’s schedule for the 2012 season.
Five things to know about the schedule
1. Lighter non-conference schedule
Ball State’s non-conference schedule for the upcoming season will have a different feel than in previous years. The Cardinals will not have any non-conference matches against teams that finished last season nationally ranked in the top 15 coaches poll. This is the first time since the men’s volleyball coaches poll was established in 1986 that Ball State has not scheduled these non-conference matches. In addition, the Cardinals will play a 13-match non-conference schedule — a four-match decrease from last season. Among the teams not included on Ball State’s schedule is Penn State. The two teams will not play each other for the first time since 1982 because of Penn State’s conference increasing its league schedule.
2. Cal State Northridge rematch
For the first time since the Cardinals pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history, Ball State will play Cal State Northridge. The Cardinals will play the Matadors as part of a three-match West Coast road trip in March. The last time these two teams met unranked Ball State swept then-No. 3 Cal State Northridge in March 2009 in Muncie, Ind. The victory was the first time since 1999 that the Cardinals defeated a top-five ranked team. It also occurred less than 24 hours after the Matadors swept the Cardinals to open their two-match series. The Cardinals are 5-11 all-time against the Matadors and have not won in Northridge, Calif., since 1982. Cal State Northridge finished last season tied for last place in the MPSF.
3. Breaking the Buckeye curse
The oldest Midwest rivalry in college men’s volleyball will once again be renewed as Ball State and Ohio State will meet twice in conference play this upcoming season. Despite Ball State leading the all-time series dating back to 1960, it has been a one-side rivalry in recent years. Ohio State is on a program-record 10 match winning streak against Ball State, including three victories in the MIVA Tournament. In addition, no player currently on Ball State’s roster was on the 2008 Cardinals team — the last time they defeated the Buckeyes. Ohio State ended last season as the first MIVA team to legally win the NCAA championship.
4. The grudge match
After suffering the biggest first-round upset in MIVA Tournament history, Ball State will get its rematch against Quincy. Ball State will play Quincy at home on Feb. 11 — the first meeting between the two teams since Quincy beat Ball State on its home court in the conference tournament quarterfinals last season. With its victory, Quincy became the first No. 6 seed to win a match in MIVA Tournament history. Ball State also failed to reach the conference semifinals for the first time since 1998. The Cardinals have lost two matches to the Hawks in the last 10 years and have never lost back-to-back matches against Quincy.
5. More Conference Carolinas
The Cardinals for the second straight season will play road matches against teams from the Conference Carolinas. Ball State will have a two-match road trip against Limestone and Pfeiffer in January. The Cardinals defeated both these teams last season in Muncie — the first meetings between the programs. The Conference Carolinas is entering its third season as a men’s volleyball conference and will be eligible for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Along with these matches, Ball State will play a home match against the two-time defending Conference Carolinas champions Mount Olive in February. The Cardinals are 4-1 all-time against teams from the Conference Carolinas.
2012 Ball State regular season schedule
7:30 p.m. Jan. 7 vs. Alumni (Exhibition)
7 p.m. Jan. 13 at St. Francis
7 p.m. Jan. 14 at George Mason
7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 vs. Sacred Heart
7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 vs. George Mason
7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 vs. St. Francis
7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Limestone
7 p.m. Jan. 28 at Pfeiffer
7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 vs. Loyola*
1 p.m. Feb. 5 vs. Lewis*
7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 vs. Quincy*
7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Ohio State*
7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 vs. IPFW*
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 vs. Mount Olive
10 p.m. March 7 at Cal State Northridge
8 p.m. March 9 at Grand Canyon*
8 p.m. March 10 at Grand Canyon*
5 p.m. March 18 vs. Ohio State*
7:30 p.m. March 21 vs. Lindenwood
5 p.m. March 25 vs. Park
8 p.m. April 2 at Loyola*
8 p.m. April 6 at Lewis*
7 p.m. April 7 at IPFW*
8 p.m. April 13 at Quincy*
8 p.m. April 14 at Lindenwood
*Denotes MIVA match
All times EST