Ball State has a legacy of men’s volleyball excellence — and having student-journalists covering the school’s most championship laden program.
With The Ball State Daily News celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Off the Block has compiled some of the most memorable men’s volleyball pages in the campus student-newspaper’s history.
[Editor’s note: Off the Block founder and editor Vinnie Lopes while in college covered the Ball State men’s volleyball team for The Ball State Daily News and served as the newspaper’s sports editor and editor-in-chief. All newspaper images are courtesy of the Ball State library archives.]
1963: V-Ballers take 2nd
Ball State playing on its home court and attempting to win its first conference championship came up one match short as it lost to George Williams 15-11, 15-5 in the MIVA Tournament finals. Despite the loss, outside attacker Tom Beerman was selected as the 1963 MIVA Player of the Year.
1965: Cards host volleyball tournament
The defending MIVA champion Ball State opened the 1965 conference season with six consecutive wins as it played host to a conference regular season event. Senior setter Mick Haley ended the season winning the MIVA Player of the Year and helping the Cardinals repeat as conference champions.
1965: Volleyballers compete in nationals
Ball State overcame an opening game loss to defeat Ohio State in four games in the 1965 MIVA Tournament finals. The Cardinals with this victory earned a berth to the USA Volleyball men’s volleyball national championship tournament — the fore-runner to the NCAA Tournament that started in 1970.
1967: Cardinals win tournament
Ball State went undefeated at its home regular season conference tournament en route to winning its fourth consecutive MIVA championship
1970: Card spikers California-bound
The Cardinals following winning the MIVA championship were one of four teams selected to the inaugural men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament in Los Angeles. Ball State upset UC Santa Barbara in round-robin play but lost to Long Beach State in the semifinals and then lost to UC Santa Barbara in the third-place match.
In the excitement of Ball State making the inaugural NCAA Tournament, the student body and athletics department held a pep rally for the team as it departed for the event in Los Angeles. In addition, Ball State President John J. Pruis lit a fire in a fireplace and pledged not to extinguish the fire until the end of the NCAA Tournament.
1971: Spikers top Tech for title
With 3,000 people packed into its small home gym, Ball State defeated Indiana Tech 15-17, 15-3 in the finals to win the Ball State Invitational. The Cardinals following this regular season conference tournament went on to win the MIVA championship for the seventh time in an eight-year span.
1971: V-ballers third in NCAA
Ball State swept Springfield 15-4, 15-6 in the third-place match at the NCAA Tournament. Ball State dropped into the third-place match after a four-game loss to UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals.
1972: Don Shondell
The Ball State Daily News coverage of the 1972 NCAA Tournament, which took place at Ball State, featured a special section previewing the tournament. The special section’s cover was a full-page image of coach Don Shondell — the founder of Ball State volleyball.
1972: Aztecs tire, give Bruins third title
UCLA defeated San Diego State in five games in the NCAA Tournament finals to win its third consecutive national championship. This NCAA Tournament was played at Ball State — the first time the event took place in the Midwest.
1973: NCAA hopes
Ball State and Ohio State met in the final week of the 1973 regular season with first place in the MIVA on the line. The Cardinals on their home court defeated the Buckeyes in five games to clinch the MIVA championship and secure a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year.
1973: Spiker season to end with NCAA tourney
Ball State swept Army in the third-place match to finish the NCAA Tournament in third place for the third consecutive year. The team in the round-robin stage won the opening game against the eventual NCAA champions San Diego State but lost the match and then lost against to San Diego State in the semifinals.
1976: Card spikers blast Ohio State, Indiana
Ball State playing in front of a home crowd of 4,120 people defeated Ohio State in five games to become the only undefeated team in the MIVA. Despite the regular season win, the Buckeyes rebounded to win the MIVA championship and earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
1979: Volleyballers win state championship
Ball State defeated Earlham in the finals to win the inaugural Indiana Intercollegiate Volleyball Championship. The team won all four of its matches at the non-conference tournament.
1979: NCAA Tournament preview
Ball State for the first time in five years won the MIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The national championship hopes were short-lived as Ball State lost to UCLA 15-3, 15-1, 15-4 in the semifinals and then lost to Rutgers-Newark in the third-place match.
Ball State ended its four-year championship drought as it defeated Ohio State in four games in the MIVA Tournament. This win secured the Cardinals’ first of four trips to the NCAA Tournament during the 1980s.
1985: Volleyball provides much for Taftali
The Ball State Daily News throughout its years of covering the Cardinals has produced numerous profiles about players on the team. This feature story from 1985 examined the career of Umit Taftali, who was from Turkey and one of the first international players in program history.
1987: Shondells love volleyball
The Shondell family has deep volleyball roots starting with Don Shondell and his late wife Betty Shondell. This feature story in The Ball State Daily News looks at the family’s ties to volleyball, which has only continued to grow since the article was published 34 years ago.
1987: Dreams dashed by Ohio State
Ball State in the MIVA Tournament finals erased a two-game deficit but then lost to Ohio State in a decisive fifth-game overtime. The Cardinals were attempting to win their third conference championship in a four-year span.
1988: NCAA Tournament preview
Ball State defeated Ohio State in five games in the MIVA Tournament finals to advance to the 1988 NCAA Tournament in nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Ball State Daily News as part of its coverage for the NCAA Tournament published a special section previewing the event. Ball State lost to USC in the NCAA Tournament but defeated George Mason in the third-place match.
1992: Buckeyes first up for Cards
Volleyball players are more than just athletes. Kevin Laseau was not only a player for Ball State during the 1992 season, but also a columnist for The Ball State Daily News. As part of the newspaper’s preview coverage for the MIVA Tournament, Laseau opted to use his column to give a first-hand account of his chaotic recent weeks coaching a club volleyball program and playing college volleyball at the same time.
1992: NCAA Tournament preview
Ball State served as the host site for the 1992 NCAA Tournament. Despite the Cardinals falling short of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament that year, The Ball State Daily News provided extensive coverage, including a six-page special section previewing the event.
1994: Surprise, surprise
Ball State upset its in-state rival IPFW in the 1994 MIVA Tournament finals to clinch a berth to the NCAA Tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana. With more than a week between the conference tournament and NCAA Tournament, The Ball State Daily News days before NCAA bracket selection provided prematch coverage of the likely semifinal matchup between Ball State and UCLA. It turned out to be a non-existent match. The selection committee shocked the men’s volleyball community as it awarded IPFW instead of Stanford the lone at-large bid. Ball State instead of playing UCLA faced Penn State in the semifinals.
1995: Cards unable to stretch luck
The national title run for the back-to-back MIVA champions Ball State came to an end as it lost to UCLA in the 1995 NCAA Tournament semifinals. Ball State rebounded from the loss and defeated Hawai’i in the third-place match, which was the final year of the third-place match in NCAA Tournament history.
1997: Setter of success
Setter Eduardo Ferraz remains the only two-time AVCA First-Team All-American selection in program history. The Ball State Daily News during his senior season published a profile story about the Brazilian setter.
1998: Twilight of a legend
Hall of Fame coach Don Shondell announced he would retire following the conclusion of the 1998 season. The Ball State Daily News towards the start of that season published a lengthy profile about the legacy of the Ball State men’s volleyball founder.
1998: Shondell bids farewell to Ball State
In the final home match of his Hall of Fame career, coach Don Shondell guided Ball State to sweep Rutgers-Newark. Ball State players following the victory proceed to carry Shondell off the court to celebrate the coach’s career.
2000: Setting from Ball State to Sydney
Former Ball State All-MIVA setter Mick Haley was selected to be the head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2000 Olympics. Haley led the United States to a fourth-place finish as it lost to Brazil in the bronze-medal match.
2003: Ready for a championship
Matt Denmark was not only a three-time All-American selection but spent time on the Ball State men’s track and field team and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the high jump. This profile story examined the career of the two-sport athlete and how for his senior season his sole focus was trying to win a men’s volleyball national championship.
2004: Former Cardinal heads to Olympics
Middle attacker Phil Eartherton was named to the U.S. Men’s National Team roster for the 2004 Olympics. This was the first time a former Ball State men’s volleyball player was selected a U.S. Olympic roster.
Ball State in front of a home crowd of more than 1,500 people defeated Loyola in an early-season match. This conference match-up featured the nation’s only two remaining undefeated Division I teams at that point in the 2006 season.
2007: Clarke’s pain for volleyball
Middle attacker Ryan Clarke battled chronic knee tendonitis throughout his college career at Ball State. The Ball State Daily News profiled Clarke’s struggle to play volleyball and to remain on the court with this injury.
2008: Midwest upset
Ball State overcame an opening-game loss to upset No. 8 Ohio State in 2008. Outside attacker Patrick Durbin finished with a match-high 22 kills, while outside attacker Todd Chamberlain added 16 kills on a .344 attack percentage.
2008: West meets Midwest
It was a rare occurrence in the 2000s for West Coast schools to travel to the Midwest for non-conference matches — especially for schools with the pedigree of UCLA. The Cardinals were able to schedule a two-match home series against the Bruins in 2008. The Ball State Daily News published a four-page special section to preview these non-conference matches.
2008: West Coast whomping
Ball State playing in front of a record home crowd for Worthen Arena upset UCLA on back-to-back nights during the 2008 season. The Cardinals entered the non-conference series having only defeated the Bruins once in their program history.
2008: Serving up a winning streak
Ball State rallied from a two-game deficit to beat its in-state rival IPFW in five games during the 2008 season. The conference victory extended the Cardinals’ winning streak to 10 matches.
2008: It’s a Meyer thing
Lee Meyer not only had the pressure of being the younger brother of All-MIVA outside attacker Nick Meyer but had to balance being a volleyball player and an architecture student. The Ball State Daily News profiled Lee Meyer’s volleyball journey and how he handled being in one of the challenging majors at the university.
2009: Welcome to the house of upsets
Ball State opened the 2009 season with a home match against No. 4 Stanford. The Cardinals entered the match, which it lost, attempting to pull off their fourth upset against a West Coast school in three seasons.
2009: Pumped to be the underdog
Ball State early in the 2009 season had a marquee non-conference road match against the NCAA champions Penn State. The Cardinals were unable to pull off the upset losing in four games.
2009: Cards hope to silence the MIVA favorites
The rivalry between Ball State and Lewis was reaching its peak in 2009, especially with Lewis picked in the preseason to win the MIVA. The Cardinals leading up to an early season match against the Flyers were outspoken that they could beat the Flyers — which they did in three games.
2009: Road to 1,000
Ball State swept the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2009 to earn the program’s 1,000th all-time victory. The Cardinals became the second team in NCAA men’s volleyball history to win 1,000 matches.
2010: The wait is over
In an anticipated rematch during the 2010 season, Ball State and Ohio State met for the first time since the Buckeyes defeated the Cardinals in the 2009 MIVA Tournament finals. The Ball State Daily News published a four-page special section previewing this conference match.
2010: Shock and awe
Ball State a day after losing to No. 3 CSUN rebounded to upset the Matadors in the non-conference series finale. This victory was the first time since 1999 that Ball State defeated a top-five nationally ranked team.
Ball State after pulling off a road upset in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals advanced to play the defending NCAA champions Ohio State in the semifinals. The Cardinals reached the semifinals despite the coaching staff at the start of the year considering the team to be a year away from contenting for a MIVA title.
2013: Rugged road
Opposite Jamion Hartley earned First-Team All-MIVA honors during his senior season. The Ball State Daily News during that season published a profile about Hartley’s volleyball career with the Cardinals.
2015: Immediate impact
Middle attacker Matt Walsh within the first weeks of his freshman season won multiple conference honors and ended the year as a finalist for the National Blocker of the Year. This profile story in The Ball State Daily News from that season examined the quick success Walsh had at the college level.
2015: Future uncertain
The Ball State Daily News in 2015 published a feature story examining at the time the lack of NCAA Division I schools adding men’s volleyball programs and the ramifications that could have on the sport. Multiple Division I and Division II schools have now added men’s volleyball programs in the last five years.
2016: More than a job
Joel Walton retired in 2021 after spending more than 20 years as the Ball State head coach. The Ball State Daily News published a profile story in 2016 examining how Walton helped save the men’s volleyball program early in his coaching tenure when it was on the verge of being cut.
2016: The man behind the mic
Steve Shondell is a Hall of Fame coach, but Ball State men’s volleyball fans also know him as the team’s enthusiastic public address announcer. The Ball State Daily News published a profile story in 2016 about Shondell and how he became an iconic fixture at Ball State home matches.
2017: Fighting for home court
Ball State entered the final week of the 2017 regular season needing to win one of its two remaining matches to secure home court for the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals. The team in its season finale defeated Loyola to clinch the No. 4 seed and a home match for the conference tournament.