MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cards drop five-set thriller to No. 15 Lewis
Freshman Hartley boasts 30 kills in career night for Ball State
Coach Joel Walton knew that it was only a matter of time before his team's fifth-game luck would run out, and Friday night was that time.
No. 15 Lewis University knocked off host Ball State University 3-2 (30-23, 27-30, 34-32, 26-30, 15-13) at Worthen Arena, snapping Ball State's three-match winning streak in five-game matches.
"It's really hard, especially here at home," Walton said. "We've now lost two matches at home to top league leaders in Ohio State and Lewis and we still have to go on the road and play those people."
Although game three was the only game to go into overtime, most went down to the wire with five lead changes and nine tied scores in game five alone. The Flyers finally gained control of the match with a 3-0 run in game five to gather just enough separation from the Cardinals.
"They made plays at crucial points," setter Ethan Pheister said. "We weren't able to match that intensity and match their play. We can't come out weak every first game and we can't come out weak at the beginning of games we have to come out ready to play right away."
The Flyers defense keyed in on Ball State's middle attackers leaving the outside attackers to carry the load.
Ball State redshirt freshman outside attacker Jamion Hartley had a career-high 30 kills on the night, tying him for the second-highest kill total in school history in the rally-scoring era. Despite the loss, fans were asking Hartley's for his autograph and taking pictures with him after the game.
"The fact that we were undefeated in our game five situations especially at home, I don't want to say we didn't play to the best of our ability," Hartley said, "but we just didn't compete like we did in our other situations in game five."
Outside attacker Lee Meyer had 17 kills to complement Hartley on the other end.
Lewis (10-3, 3-2 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) gained advantage over Ball State in two categories in particular: aces (6-2) and blocks (18-11). The Cardinals, however, had a 61-46 advantage in digs, led by a game-high 18 from libero Billy Ebel.
The loss drops Ball State to 9-5 (3-4 MIVA) and 0-4 against ranked opponents this season.
Loyola University and Ohio State University are also ahead of Ball State in the conference standings. The Cardinals have five conference games left, only one of which is in the friendly confines of Worthen Arena.
Friday night's match was the second five-game match for the Cardinals on back-to-back nights, while the Flyers came in rested. Walton, however, doesn't see fatigue as a valid excuse.
"It's really the same way we've been playing all season and our guys have to be conditioned to play on back to back nights." Walton said. "Maybe that was a bit of an impact if we had done a good job taking care of IPFW last night. Overall, I felt that our guys played with a great deal of energy. I didn't actually notice at any point where they looked fatigued and were giving up plays due to fatigue."
Hartley, on the other hand, feels that the team could've fared even better if it had more rest.
"I feel like last night was a really big factor in how we played tonight," Hartley said. "We know that they are not a better team than us at all. I'm not saying I wasn't tired, because I was. I had a couple of errors at the end I could have made. I know we will get them next time for sure."