The postseason spotlight is shining bright on the Chicago area tonight as the MIVA Tournament resumes with both semifinal matches.
The defending-MIVA champions Lewis look to return to the conference championship match and end Grand Canyon’s underdog run as two teams play in their first postseason meeting against each other. In addition, Ball State will try to end a 14-year curse as it plays Loyola in other semifinal match.
Check out the conference tournament matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
MIVA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
No. 1 seed Lewis (19-9, 10-4 MIVA) vs. No. 5 seed Grand Canyon (17-14, 8-7 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Romeoville, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Lewis leads 2-0 (won in four games and five games in February)
Last MIVA Tournament title: Lewis (2012); Grand Canyon (never)
What to know: Grand Canyon three days after getting its first postseason victory in program history will try to continue its underdog run through the conference tournament as it plays the defending-MIVA champions Lewis in the semifinals. As the No. 5 seed, Grand Canyon defeated Ohio State in five games Saturday to become the third lower seed in the last nine years to win a MIVA Tournament quarterfinals match. Outside attacker Jordon Tarantino in the victory had a team-high 18 kills and had the Antelopes’ final four points, three kills and a block, in the decisive fifth game to secure the upset. Lewis received a bye to the semifinals after winning a share of the MIVA Tournament regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed because of holding the tiebreaker over Loyola. The Flyers, though, lost their last two regular season matches, including a loss to unranked IPFW in its regular-season finale. Lewis in that loss was without its All-American setter BJ Boldog who suffered a concussion in the team’s loss to Ball State earlier that week. A defending MIVA champion has advanced to the conference championship match all but three times in the last 10 years.
No. 2 seed Loyola (20-9, 10-4 MIVA) vs. No. 3 seed Ball State (21-5, 9-5 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (Loyola won in three games in February; Ball State won in four games in April)
Last MIVA Tournament title: Loyola (never); Ball State (2002)
What to know: Ball State is on a nation-best 13-match winning streak but will have to break a curse spanning more than a decade to beat Loyola and make the MIVA Tournament championship match. The Loyola curse for Ball State stretches back to 1999 — the last time the Cardinals beat the Ramblers in Chicago. This match will also feature one of the nation’s best defensive team against one of the nation’s best offensive team. Ball State leads the country with a 2.99 blocks per game average. In addition, middle attacker Matt Leske finished the regular season second in the nation averaging 1.40 blocks per game and was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak Inc. National Blocker of the Year. Loyola leads the MIVA and is fifth in the nation with a .301 attack percentage. Outside attacker Joseph Smalzer also has a conference-best 3.79 kills per game average and was named the 2013 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year after having more than 60 aces during the regular season. Loyola and Ball State will play each other for the second time in the last 10 days. Outside attacker Jamion Hartley had a match-high 16 kills to help Ball State beat Loyola in a four games in their regular season finale. Hartley also did not have any significant playing time in Ball State’s three-game loss to Loyola in February.