No. 11 Ball State entered the final week of the regular season needing multiple things to go right just to have a shot at getting the No. 1 seed for the MIVA Tournament.
It turned out everything went the way of the Cardinals.
Ball State hit .381 as it swept its in-state rival Purdue Fort Wayne 25-17, 25-17, 25-22 on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana, to earn a three-way share of the MIVA regular season title and due to tiebreakers earn the top seed to the conference tournament.
Ball State started the week two matches out of first place but moved within a match after sweeping first-place No. 8/10 Loyola on Thursday. In addition, Ball State continued to remain alive for a share of the MIVA regular season title after Loyola lost to No. 13 Ohio State earlier Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals, Ramblers and Buckeyes became the first teams since 1996 to end the MIVA regular season in a three-way tie for first place. With all the teams tied after the first tiebreaker of head-to-head record, Ball State won the second tiebreaker with a 9-6 combined set record against Ohio State and Loyola.
Outside attacker Kaleb Jenness had a match-high 15 kills on a .333 attack percentage in the regular season finale sweep against Purdue Fort Wayne.
Jenness was one of four Ball State players to hit more than .300 in front of a home crowd of 1,211 people.
Opposite Dyer Ball contributed nine kills and hit .353. Middle attacker Wil McPhilips also had seven kills and zero errors on a .467 attack percentage, while middle attacker Felix Egharevba had six kills and hit a match-best .714.
Along with Egharevba’s offensive performance, the graduate student led all players with six blocks.
Purdue Fort Wayne was limited to less than a .200 attack percentage in each of the first two games and finished hitting .244.
Both Jon Diedrich and Mark Frazier led the Mastodons with 10 kills.
The Mastodons with this loss dropped into a three-way tie for fourth place in the MIVA. Purdue Fort Wayne due to tiebreakers will be the No. 5 seed and will travel to play the No. 4 seed Lewis in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.
Ball State as the No. 1 seed will play host to the No. 8 seed Quincy in its quarterfinals match on Saturday and will have home court advantage throughout the entire MIVA Tournament.
This is the second consecutive year the Cardinals have earned the top seed to the conference tournament. Ball State last year won the MIVA Tournament to end a 21-year championship drought and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Loyola edged out Ohio State on the third tiebreaker, point differential, to earn the No. 2 seed and will have home court advantage throughout the semifinals.
Loyola will play the No. 7 seed McKendree in the quarterfinals. In addition, the No. 3 seed Ohio State will play host to the No. 6 seed Lindenwood in the quarterfinals.