The rivalry is back on between two of the winningest programs in college men’s volleyball history.
Ball State as part of unveiling its 2024 regular season schedule earlier this week announced it will play a home non-conference match against Penn State on Feb. 2.
This will be the first time in four years that the Nittany Lions and Cardinals have played each other and the first home match for Ball State in this series since 2019. The two schools before this four-year hiatus had met at least once in 43 of the previous 44 seasons dating back to 1976.
Both Ball State and Penn State finished last season in the top 10 of the national rankings.
Ball State in 2023 came within one match of repeating as MIVA champions and lost to Ohio State in the conference tournament finals.
Among the starters returning for the includes All-MIVA outside attacker Tinaishe Ndavazocheva who was in the nation’s top 25 averaging 3.60 kills per game. The Cardinals in the offseason also added Brazilian setter Lucas Machado along with St. Francis Brooklyn transfer and Freshman All-American outside attacker Patrick Rogers.
Penn State won the EIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals last season. Despite the Nittany Lions graduating multiple All-American starters, All-American middle attacker Toby Ezeonu returns after being a finalist for the 2023 Ryan Millar Award and being second in the nation with a .490 attack percentage.
The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series against the Cardinals 62-30, but Ball State has won three of the last four meetings.
The match versus Penn State will cap off a three-match home stand against all teams that finished last season nationally ranked.
Ball State will open the home stand against the defending Big West champions Hawai’i on Jan. 28 and then will play Loyola in its MIVA opener on Feb. 1.
Ball State 2024 regular season schedule
Jan. 2 vs. Wabash
Jan. 3 vs. Wabash
Jan. 3 vs. Thomas More
Jan. 5 at BYU
Jan. 6 at BYU
Jan. 11 vs. UC San Diego
Jan. 13 vs. Tusculum
Jan. 19 vs. USC (in Austin, Texas)
Jan. 20 vs. Stanford (in Austin, Texas)
Jan. 28 vs. Hawai’i
Feb. 1 vs. Loyola
Feb. 2 vs. Penn State
Feb. 9 at McKendree
Feb. 10 at Lindenwood
Feb. 15 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne
Feb. 17 at Loyola
Feb. 23 at Quincy
March 1 vs. Queens
March 3 vs. Queens
March 14 at Ohio State
March 16 vs. Lindenwood
March 21 vs. Ohio State
March 23 at Purdue Fort Wayne
March 28 at Lewis
March 30 at Lewis
April 4 vs. Quincy
April 6 vs. McKendree