MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals' woeful serving leads to sweep by visiting Buckeyes
Season-high attendance not enough to catapult Ball State over MIVA rivals
A season-high crowd of 1,769 fans traversed the snowy roads Friday night to Worthen Arena hoping to see Ball State University take down their rivals, No. 14 Ohio State University.
It did not happen.
Ohio State swept Ball State 3-0 (30-28, 34-32, 30-24) and has a six-match winning streak over the Cardinals.
"I thought we played a good first couple of games," coach Joel Walton said. "Made plays early on, open up a lead, and we just weren't able to sustain it and finish off a game."
The score was tied at 28 in game one, but the Buckeyes scored two straight to clinch the game.
Ball State had three game points in game two and failed to capitalize on any of them. Ohio State won the game on its first game point opportunity for 34-32 win.
"That was the point where needed energy all the time," middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic said. "We need to be energetic and we need to be pumped to be out there."
In game three the Buckeyes went on multiple spurts with an 8-2 run in the middle followed by a 13-8 run to close out the match.
"Ohio State out-served us by far," Walton said. "We started to pass a lot of balls off the net. We were hitting out of system against a great defensive team."
The two teams combined for 39 service errors, but Ball State was unable to score a single ace the whole match.
"Probably the biggest difference in the match was the fact that we had no aces and 21 misses," Walton said. "They had eight aces on 18 misses. They put a lot of pressure on us with their serves than we did with them. What's crazy is it's our gym. We should be the team out-serving them and it worked in the absolute opposite."
Ohio State has now won 13 of their 16 matches with Ball State, and Walton believes that recent history is giving the Buckeyes a mental edge.
"I think it definitely is a mental thing," Walton said. "It's a hurdle that's going to be there until our guys get over the top. We are capable of doing it."
Ball State was without outside attackers Jamion Hartley (ankle injury), in addition to Marcus Imwalle (knee injury). Gasparovic doesn't want to use their injuries as an excuse.
"It hurt us at first," Gasparovic said. "At the same time our bench is deep. We had a lot of guys that stepped up."
Outside Attackers Dominic Spadavecchio and Eric Schulte started in their place to compliment Lee Meyer. Matt Sprague, Greg Herceg and Larry Wrather all saw time off the bench at that position.
Middle attacker Anders Nelson led the Cardinals in kills with 11 and had a team high six blocks. No other Cardinals player reached double figures in kills.
Ball State drops to 6-2 (1-2 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Assocation), snapping its six-game winning streak.
Ohio State is now 7-4 with a perfect 4-0 record in the MIVA.
"We have the ability to beat that team," Walton said. "We're going to figure it out as a group. As a competitor I don't want anybody else to do it. I want to climb that mountain myself."