Top NAIA coach Cruz named new Ball State head coach

Photo courtesy of Grand View

A four-time NAIA National Coach of the Year will take over one of the most storied programs in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball.

Ball State announced Wednesday it hired former Grand View coach Donan Cruz to be its new head coach.

“Donan has proven himself as one of the top coaches in the game, building the Grand View program from the ground up and developing it into a perennial national powerhouse,” athletics director Beth Goetz said in a statement. “His work ethic and commitment to developing his student-athletes on and off the court make him the perfect fit to lead our program.”

Cruz in his 10 seasons at Grand View led the NAIA among active coaches with a .793 with a career winning percentage. He also led the program to two national championships, including finishing the most recent season undefeated and sweeping the No. 2 seed Benedictine-Mesa in the finals.


The Vikings under Cruz advanced to the NAIA finals five times and had two individuals earn NAIA National Player of the Year honors.

Along with his collegiate experience, Cruz was on the coaching staffs for both the 2015 U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team and the 2012 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team.

Cruz spent three seasons as an outside attacker and libero for Graceland. His coaching career started while still playing by serving as a student intern for the Graceland women’s volleyball team for 2004-05 and was then hired to be the team’s recruiting coordinator after graduating in 2006.

“I am eager to get to work and compete in a conference that has set a very high standard of volleyball on the national scale,” Cruz said in a statement. “My goal is to ensure our team is accountable for upholding both the academic and athletic expectations we set in order for us to compete at a high level. There is going to be an exciting journey ahead, and I am honored and privileged to lead this program into the next chapter of Ball State men’s volleyball history.”

Ball State is a founding member of the MIVA and has the second-most wins of any NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball program.

The Cardinals have won 21 MIVA regular season championships and reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals 15 times. However, Ball State has not won a MIVA championship or reached the NCAA Tournament since 2002 — its longest drought in program history.

Ball State returns multiple All-MIVA starters after finishing the 2021 season in fourth place in the MIVA and advancing to the conference tournament semifinals. The Cardinals have not advanced beyond the MIVA Tournament semifinals since 2009.

Cruz replaces long-time head coach Joel Walton who retired following the 2021 season. In addition, Cruz will be the fourth head coach in the 61-year history of the Ball State program.