Twenty years of waiting.
Twenty years of heartbreaking and devastating postseason losses.
Twenty years of fans and former players wondering when the time would come for one of the most storied college men’s volleyball programs to once again win a title.
Those 20 years made the moment all the more memorable for Ball State.
Ball State ended its 20-year conference championship drought as it swept its in-state rival Purdue Fort Wayne 28-26, 25-20, 25-16 in the MIVA Tournament finals on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana.
The Cardinals with this victory secured the MIVA’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. This will be Ball State’s 16th NCAA Tournament appearance, but its first appearance since winning the MIVA title in 20022.
Outside attacker Kaleb Jenness had a match-high 18 kills on a .421 attack percentage against the Mastodons. The MIVA Player of the Year finished with double-digit kills and more than a .400 attack percentage in all three conference tournament matches en route to being named the MIVA Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Jenness was one of four Cardinal starters who hit more than .300 in the victory. Opposite Angelos Mandilaris added 14 kills on a .314 attack percentage, while freshman middle attacker Vanis Buckholz had seven kills and hit .545.
Setter Quinn Issacson also had four kills on a .600 attack percentage and a match-high two aces.
Isaacson guided the offense to out-hit Purdue Fort Wayne .308 to .232, including Ball State hitting a match-best .484 in the final game.
Outside attacker Jon Diedrich in the loss had a team-high 10 kills, and outside attacker Vicente Ibarra contributed nine kills. Both players, though, were held to less than a .200 attack percentage.
The Cardinals were able to complete the sweep following a 7-0 run late in the third game that was capped off with an ace from outside attacker Nick Martinski. In addition, the Cardinals clinched the title with a match-winning kill from Jenness.
Ball State trailed the second game 15-12 before going on a 11-2 run, which featured middle attacker Felix Egharevba having two kills and two blocks.
Purdue Fort Wayne fought off two game-points in the first game to force overtime. The Mastodons also overcame two more game-points in the overtime before Mandilaris converted on a kill attempt to give the Cardinals the opening-game win.
Purdue Fort Wayne was the first No. 6 seed in the conference’s history to reach the MIVA Tournament finals. The team pulled off road upsets against the No. 3 seed McKendree and the No. 2 seed Loyola to make the finals for the first time since 2007.