Volleyball Opens MIVA Tournament At Grand Canyon
►TOURNAMENT TIME: The No. 5 seed Ball State men's volleyball team opens play in the 2012 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament Saturday, when it travels to No. 4 seed Grand Canyon for a 9 p.m ET / 6 p.m. MST first serve.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: Live stats and live video will be available for Saturday's MIVA Tournament quarterfinal match at the links above.
►SETTING UP THE TOURNAMENT: Ohio State captured a share of its sixth straight MIVA regular season title and earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament with a 9-3 league mark . . . Lewis shared the MIVA regular season crown with its 9-3 record, but picked up the No. 2 seed after losing the tiebreaker to the Buckeyes . . . Loyola is the No. 3 seed at 8-4, followed by No. 4 Grand Canyon (5-7), No. 5 Ball State (5-7), No. 6 IPFW (5-7) and No. 7 Quincy (1-11).
►IN THE TOURNAMENT: Ball State enters Saturday's MIVA Tournament quarterfinal match with a 57-27 (.679) all-time mark in league tournament play . . . BSU is 15-2 in quarterfinal matches, 16-11 in semifinal action and 14-11 in championship matches . . . From 1964-1969, BSU was 12-3 in round robin play . . . Last season, the Cardinals suffered a 3-1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 26-24) setback to Quincy in the quarterfinal round.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State men's volleyball program enters Saturday's match at Grand Canyon with a 1066-432-8 (.710) all-time record in 48-plus seasons of play . . . The program, which officially became a varsity sport at Ball State during the 1964 season, joins baseball and men's basketball as the only programs in school history to reach 1,000 wins . . . In addition, only one other NCAA Division I/II men's volleyball program has eclipsed 1,000 wins, with UCLA entering the week with an 1,239-289 all-time record over 49-plus years.
►250 AND COUNTING: Joel Walton, who is in his 14th season as BSU's head coach, picked up his 250th career victory in a 3-2 thriller at George Mason (Jan. 14) . . . Walton coached his 400th career match versus Park (Feb. 25), picking up a 3-0 victory . . . He enters Saturday's match at Grand Canyon with a 262-147 (.641) career record . . . Walton holds a 7-1 all-time record versus GCU, including a regular season series split this season.
►ALL-TIME VERSUS GRAND CANYON: Saturday's match will mark the first time Ball State and Grand Canyon will square off in the MIVA Tournament . . . The Cardinals hold a 7-1 edge in the all-time series after splitting the 2012 regular season series . . . GCU won the March 9 series opener 3-0 (25-19, 28-26, 25-23) in Phoenix, while the Cardinals rebounded with a 3-2 (21-25, 29-27, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12) victory the following night (March 10) . . . The Cardinals are 4-1 all-time in matches played at Grand Canyon's Antelope Gymnasium, however, Saturday's match will be played at GCU Arena.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: The Cardinals enter the MIVA Tournament with a 13-11 (5-7 MIVA) record after earning a 3-0 win at Quincy last Friday, before ending the regular season with a 3-0 loss at Lindenwood . . . Junior outside attacker Larry Wrather paces the BSU attack with a 2.57 kills-per-set average, while redshirt junior opposite attacker Jamion Hartley is second at 2.47 kps . . . Junior Dan Wichmann and sophomore Graham McIlvaine have split time at setter, guiding the Cardinals to a .213 team hitting mark . . . Redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske has a team-high 1.29 blocks per set, while sophomore middle attacker Kevin Owens hits a team-best .405 . . . Sophomore libero Tommy Rouse averages 2.42 digs per set to pace the BSU backcourt.
►TAKING CHARGE AT THE NET: Ball State continues to be one of the most dominating defenses in the nation at the net, ranking eighth in the country with a 2.71 blocks-per-set average . . . Matt Leske leads the Ball State block and ranks ninth nationally at 1.29 bps, while Kevin Owens is 23rd in the country at 1.07.
►AND IN THE BACKCOURT: Ball State also enters the weekend ranked fifth nationally with a 9.57 digs-per-set average . . . Tommy Rouse is 10th among all NCAA Division I/II players at 2.42 dps, while Larry Wrather is 39th at 1.86 . . . Saturday's opponent Grand Canyon leads the country with a 10.17 team average.