MUNCIE, Ind. — UPDATE: The Ball State men's volleyball team lost 3-2 Thursday to Hawaii, ending the Cardinals' pursuit of a national championship.
The Cardinals dominated the regular season with a 23-3 record, which earned them the second seed in the NCAA Tournament. That meant a bye directly into the Final Four Thursday night in Los Angeles.
"Our chemistry is a group of guys that have really put in a lot of time and effort building relationships over the last four or five years and, volleyball-wise, we are a new staff with this group this year. Some of the keys to what we are doing volleyball-wise, the guys have locked in and really executed some of those sets," said head coach Donan Cruz. "Pair that with good chemistry and it's the product you have seen all season long."
Ball State will face Hawaii in the second semifinal at 10:30 p.m. EDT Thursday. The winner will play Long Beach State or UCLA on Saturday for the national title.
"Like we told the guys, anybody in this tournament has an opportunity to win a national championship. For us to be able to represent Ball State on that stage is exciting and we know there are a lot of people behind us, so it's going to be a lot of fun out there in California," Cruz said.
The next step in the journey is a big one, but the Cardinals seem poised and ready to hoist a national championship trophy.
"That would be a pretty out-of-this-world experience and I know just what that would mean to so many generations before us and, really, the university," Cruz said. "For us to be in that conversation, we have already accomplished a pretty big goal to win ... It would be quite a celebration."