The rumble of the Mastodons has been felt all the way to the MIVA Tournament finals.
Purdue Fort Wayne became the first No. 6 seed in the MIVA’s 61-year history to reach the conference tournament finals as it upset the No. 2 seed Loyola 32-30, 25-23, 27-25 in the semifinals on Wednesday in Chicago.
Setter Zach Solomon finished with 50 assists and guided the Purdue Fort Wayne offense to out-hit Loyola .388 to .375, including the Mastodons having a match-best .513 attack percentage in the final game. In addition, three Mastodons had double-digit kills and hit more than .300 against Loyola.
Middle attacker Rico Wardlow had a season-high 15 kills and zero errors on a .626 attack percentage. Opposite Jon Diedrich also led the Mastodons with 16 kills and hit .387, while outside attacker Vicente Ibarra added 12 kills on a .321 attack percentage.
Both Cole Schlothauer and Parker Van Buren in the loss had a match-high 17 kills and hit more than .350.
The Mastodons rallied from deficits in all three games to earn their first berth to the MIVA Tournament finals since 2007.
Purdue Fort Wayne in the first-game overtime fought off a Loyola game-point before Wardlow had a kill on the team’s sixth game-point to secure the win. The Mastodons also overcame a four-point deficit early in the second game and rallied from a 23-21 deficit in the third game to win in overtime.
Purdue Fort Wayne will advance to play its in-state rival Ball State in the conference tournament finals on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana. Ball State swept Lewis in its semifinals match on Wednesday to earn its first conference tournament finals berth since 2009.
This will be the first time since 1994 that Ball State and Purdue Fort Wayne have met in the MIVA Tournament finals.