UC Irvine will once again return to Ball State for a non-conference match.
The defending-MPSF champions UC Irvine announced Friday that it will play Ball State on March 19 as part three-match non-conference road trip during the upcoming season.
This will be the third consecutive season that Ball State and UC Irvine have played each other and the second time in the last three years that the Anteaters have traveled to Muncie, Indiana. UC Irvine swept both matches the last two seasons to improve to 3-3 all-time against Ball State.
The Anteaters finished last season with the program’s first MPSF championship since 2013. It also earned the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament but had a season-ending loss to Loyola in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Despite multiple All-Americans graduating, the Anteaters still return a majority of starters for the 2016 season including All-American outside attacker and Karch Kiraly Award finalist Tamhir Hershko.
Ball State ended last season in sixth place in the MIVA and suffered its first losing record in more than a decade. The Cardinals, though, have almost all of their starters returning for the upcoming season highlighted by Freshmen All-American middle attacker Matt Walsh.
Ball State is 4-3 in home non-conference matches against MPSF opponents during the last 10 years.
This home non-conference match for the Cardinals will also feature Ball State coach Joel Walton and UC Irvine coach David Kniffin facing each other. Both coaches spent part of the off-season coaching the United States at World University Games.
Along with its match against Ball State, UC Irvine will continue its mid-season road trip with matches against Penn State and George Mason.
The Anteaters will play a MPSF-high seven non-conferences during the upcoming season.
UC Irvine will open its season against George Mason and the defending-NCAA champions Loyola at the AVCA Showcase. In addition, the team will play both Ohio State and Lewis at Asics Invitational in March.