No. 11 Ball State is still alive in the race for the No. 1 seed to the MIVA Tournament.
Ball State moved within one match of first place as it swept No. 10/8 Loyola 25-21, 25-18, 27-25 in front of a home crowd of 1,124 people on Thursday in Muncie, Indiana.
The Ramblers (21-5, 11-2 MIVA) with this loss remain in first place in MIVA entering the final day of the regular season on Saturday. However, Ball State (17-8, 10-3 MIVA) now holds the tiebreaker and can jump into a tie for first-place and the No. 1 seed if it beats Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday and Loyola loses its finale to No. 13 Ohio State.
Outside attacker Tinaishe Ndavazocheva finished with a match-high 15 kills on a .429 attack percentage against Loyola. This is also the fourth time during the Cardinals’ five-match winning streak that Ndavazocheva has double-digit kills.
Along with Ndavazocheva, outside attacker Kaleb Jenness had 11 kills on a .333 attack percentage and did not commit an error on 14 service receptions.
Setter David Flores guided the offense to out-hit Loyola .375 to .283, including Ball State having a match-best .611 attack percentage in the second game.
Loyola opposite Parker Van Buren in the loss had a team-high 14 kills and two aces. In addition, Van Buren had a kill and ace as part of a 3-0 run to help the Ramblers overcome a 24-21 deficit in the third game to force overtime.
Van Buren fought off a fourth match-point opportunity with a kill in overtime before Ball State won the match on a Loyola attack error.
Ball State remains tied for second place in the MIVA with Ohio State (17-9, 9-3 MIVA) and maintains the tiebreaker. Ohio State swept Purdue Fort Wayne on Thursday to also stay in contention for a possible No. 1 seed to the MIVA Tournament.
If Ball State and Ohio State win in their season finales, it would result in a three-way tie for the MIVA regular season championship. A three-way tie for first place in the MIVA has occurred one other time in the history of the conference.