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IPFW
vs. Quincy
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Gates Center
vs. Lindenwood
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gates Center

IPFW volleyball gains confidence

– They’d let one get away at Lewis. No. 1 Loyola handled them in the Gates Center. And now …

Now this, last Saturday night, for the IPFW men’s volleyball team: Another one slipping away over in Columbus, Ohio.

Two straight losses were bad enough. But a third – after leading two sets to none against Ohio State – might have put the 14th-ranked Mastodons into an irreversible spiral two weeks before the MIVA tournament. That it didn’t happen has turned a spiral into an upsurge.

“Really good for the team,” senior outside hitter Kevin Villela says of the Mastodons’ eventual 25-19, 25-22, 16-25, 24-26, 15-10 victory.

“Real important to help right the ship,” coach Arnie Ball agrees.

And that the ship has been righted, the goal is simple: Sail on.

“We’re at the point of the season now where the guys who’ve been playing have to continue to play,” says Ball, whose 18-6 Mastodons play host to Quincy (13-16) and Lindenwood (19-9, but 4-8 in the MIVA) tonight and Saturday. “And it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, they just have to continue to play, so we can continue the momentum that we developed last week into the playoffs in a couple of weeks.”

Absolutely, Villela agrees.

“Ohio State, I think, was a bigger win than this weekend because Ohio State is generally regarded as a harder team,” he says. “Now, that said, we have a lot more to lose against Lindenwood and Quincy. If we lose against one of those teams, it’s not going to look good for us going into the tournament.

“So we need to win these two, and I think more than that, we need to win them with some authority. We need to get out and try to build some confidence for the first round of the playoffs – which most likely will be Ohio State.”

To that end, Ball gave his team three days off this week and cut back practices to give his players more rest for the stretch run. And if that pays off against Quincy and Lindenwood, the win at Ohio State last week will loom even larger than it really did.

“The week before we’d kind of gotten drubbed a little bit by Loyola and we lost a match to Lewis that we should have just absolutely won,” Ball says. “So our morale was pretty low, as low as it’s been all year. And we’ve had a good year.

“So that win over there – especially having won the first two sets, looking like we’re going to win in three and all of a sudden we’re in a dogfight and come back to win in five – I think really has helped with our morale and our confidence.”

Again, Villela seconds the notion.

“When you play five sets, that’s really testing you,” he says. “So I think that five-set challenge we overcame was really good for the team.”

bensmith@jg.net

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