Stanford will open its upcoming season at the birthplace of Midwest college men’s volleyball.
Stanford announced Wednesday that it will play a non-conference match against Ball State as part of a season-opening Midwest road trip in January.
This will be the first time since 2009 that Stanford has traveled to play Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. In addition, Ball State since losing to Stanford in that match almost seven years ago has played three non-conference home matches against MPSF opponents.
Both Stanford and Ball State ended last season unranked in the final coaches poll — one of the first times that college men’s volleyball history that feat has occurred.
Ball State finished in sixth place in the MIVA and suffered its first losing season in almost 15 years. The Cardinals, though, under coach Joel Walton return a majority of starters, including Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American middle attacker Matt Walsh.
The Cardinals also are 5-3 in non-conference home matches versus the MPSF in the last 10 years.
Stanford after reaching the 2014 NCAA Tournament finals ended last season in ninth place in the MPSF and missed the postseason. Among the starters returning for the Cardinal includes All-American setter James Shaw, who missed the majority of last season with an injury.
The season-opener against Ball State on Jan. 8 is the first of two matches Stanford will have versus MIVA opponents that weekend. The team will also play a non-conference road match against IPFW on Jan. 9.
These will be the only two non-conference matches that Stanford will play during the 2016 season.