No one could fault the IPFW players for showing that much emotion on their opponent's home court. The road victory had been a seven-year long wait for the Mastodons against their in-state rival.
IPFW (5-3, 2-1 MIVA) rallied from a one-game deficit to defeated Ball State in conference play 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-21 for the Mastodons first victory in Muncie since 2006.
"Oh my god. This might be the happiest I've ever been," outside attacker Eddie Rivera said. "This feels so good. It feels so good to win."
IPFW in the victory held Ball State (8-2, 3-2 MIVA) to a season-low .133 attack percentage. In addition, the Mastodons out-blocked the Cardinals 13.5 to 11.5 — IPFW's highest block total in a four-game match this season.
Coach Arnie Ball said the Mastodons spent a significant amount of time last week during their bye week working on improving their blocking. The coach also said IPFW's effective serving prevented Ball State from utilizing all its offensive options and made it easier for the Mastodons to put additional blockers on the Cardinals outside attackers.
"I'm just happy we won," Ball said. "Our blocking was much better. We served really well. We dug some balls. I'm just happy with some of the things we did."
Outside attacker Greg Herceg in the loss led Ball State with 11 kills but was held to a season-low -.029 attack percentage. Herceg entered this match leading the MIVA and among the national leaders with a 4.31 kills per game average.
Ball State coach Joel Walton said Herceg struggled against IPFW because of Ball State problems making effective passes on serves.
"Greg when he is going well, we are passing well and blockers are having to make a decision to go to our middles or the right side," Walton said. "IPFW had a much easier time getting a better block in front of him."
Freshman outside attacker Andy Sellan finished with a match-high 16 kills and was one of three IPFW players to have double-digit kills in the victory. Rivera added a 14 kills and a team-high 13 digs, while Anthony Randolph also had 10 kills.
This is the second consecutive victory for IPFW against Ball State. The Mastodons at home defeated the Cardinals last season to snap a 10-match losing streak against their in-state rival dating back to 2008.
Rivera also said winning at Ball State was critical for the team's psyche as it continues its road trip Friday against the six-time defending-MIVA regular season champions Ohio State.
"It's Ball State. Being able to beat Ball State at Ball State is a huge thing for us," he said. "It helps for our confidence going into that Ohio State match."