Nathan Pace

Ball State University has gone from a six-match winning streak to the bottom half of the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association standings in a span of eight days.

"We are missing leadership at critical times," coach Joel Walton said. "Our offense continues to be average to weak."

Ball State (7-3, 2-3) lost to Quincy University (3-5, 1-2) Saturday night 3-1. The Cardinals defeated the Hawks Friday night in five games.

Saturday's loss snaps Ball State's 21-match winning streak against Quincy, dating back to 2001.

"Quincy is playing well right now," Walton said. "They are just playing better than they have been the past three years. They played real aggressive defense. We got blocked too much by them."

The loss to Quincy is Ball State's first loss to a team that has not been ranked this season.
Ball State has now lost two of their last three matches with a trip to No. 9 Penn State University on Friday night.

"Our schedule doesn't get any easier," Walton said. "We got to try to get healthy this week. Our backup players just have to make more plays."

The Cardinals are dealing with injures to outside attackers Marcus Imwalle (knee) and Jamion Hartley (ankle). Hartley played this weekend but could not play at 100 percent both nights.

Walton said that Quincy took control of the match with their serves.

"They served us tougher than we served them," he said. "With our serves, we weren't putting the pressure on them [that] they put on us."

Quincy had seven aces on the night compared to two from Ball State. Hawks oppositehitter Joe Ascher led both teams in kills with 19.

"Joe Ascher did a really nice job for them," Walton said. "He hits really good shots."

Middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic led both teams in blocks with nine and outside attacker Lee Meyer led the Cardinals in kills with 18.

Ball State only has seven more MIVA matches remaining to improve its seeding for the conference tournament in April.

"It really hurts us as far as the overall league race," Walton said. "We don't want to go on the road in the tournament for a quarterfinal match."