Felix Egharevba was walking off the court emotional following the match when Guilherme Voss jogged across the court and tapped his opposing middle attacker on the shoulder to get his attention.
The two all-conference players shared a quick embrace and a few words.
The mutual respect was clear.
After going up against each other for more than two hours in a five-game match with a spot in the NCAA Tournament finals on the line, there was plenty of respect afterwards between Ball State and Hawai’i.
Hawai’i rallied from a one-game deficit to beat the No. 2 seed Ball State 28-26, 19-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-11 on Thursday in Los Angeles to advance to the NCAA Tournament finals.
The Rainbow Warriors finished with 13 aces, including four aces on the first 12 plays of the decisive fifth game.
Setter Jakob Thelle had back-to-back aces as part of a 4-0 run to start the game en route to becoming the first program in almost 30 years to advance to three consecutive NCAA Tournament finals.
Thelle finished with a match-high four aces and guided the offense to match-best .571 attack percentage in the fifth game.
Despite being out-hit for the match .262 to .241, Hawaii had three players with double-digit kills.
Both outside attacker Spyros Chakas and opposite Dimitrios Mouchlias had a match-high 19 kills and multiple aces. Outside attacker Chaz Galloway added 10 kills, while Voss had eight kills on a .429 attack percentage.
Ball State in the loss had 19 blocks – 1.5 blocks shy of the NCAA Tournament record during the 25-point rally scoring era.
Egharevba led all players with nine blocks – the second-most blocks for any player in a five-game NCAA Tournament match during this era. Opposite Angelos Mandilaris and freshman middle attacker Vanis Buckholz each added seven blocks against the Rainbow Warriors.
Mandilaris contributed 15 kills and was one of two Cardinals with at least 15 kills. Outside attacker Kaleb Jenness led Ball State with 18 kills on a .359 attack percentage.
Jenness defensively had a team-high 11 digs. In addition, Hawai’i libero Brett Sheward led all players with 16 digs.
Hawai’i forced a fifth game after opening the fourth game on an 8-3 run that featured three consecutive kills from Mouchlias. Mouchlias finished that game-four win leading all players with six kills.
Issacson had back-to-back blocks in the third game to give Ball State an 8-5 lead. The Cardinals led by multiple points the rest of the match and held the Rainbow Warriors to less than a .100 attack percentage for the second consecutive game.
Ball State bounced back from a 3-0 deficit in the second game with a 8-1 run with Isaacson and Jennis serving. The Cardinals led by as many as 10 points and Jennes had a game-high six kills in the win.
Ball State in the opening game rallied from a 20-12 deficit to force overtime and had a game-point opportunity. However, the Rainbow Warriors rebounded and closed out the game on an ace from Cole Hogland.
Ball State was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years after winning the MIVA Tournament championship. The Cardinals in the regular season also swept a two-match series against Rainbow Warriors, which had multiple starters unavailable to play.
Hawai’i will now face the No. 1 seed Long Beach State in an All-Big West NCAA Tournament finals on Saturday.
The Rainbow Warriors lost both regular season matches to the Beach but swept Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament finals.