Nathan Pace

Nothing crazy happened to the Ball State University's men's volleyball team over Spring Break, as the Cardinals won the match they were favored in and lost their two matches going in as the underdogs.

The Cardinals ended their annual West Coast road trip with 1-2 record.

On Tuesday, Ball State won a crucial Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association meeting at first-year MIVA member Grand Canyon University, 3-2 (30-18, 24-30, 28-30, 30-19, 15-13).

"We played just well enough to win the match," coach Joel Walton said. "We got off to a great start to the match. In the fourth game, we got back in rhythm and carried it to the fifth."
The victory evened Ball State's MIVA record at 4-4.

Three Cardinals scored double-digit kills in the match. Outside attacker Matt Sprague led the way with 13 kills with Jamion Hartley and middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic scoring 12 kills each.

The Cardinals' struggles against ranked teams, however, continued over the week. Ball State was swept by No. 8 UCLA (30-26, 30-18, 30-27) in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and by No. 2 Pepperdine University (30-25, 31-29, 30-18) in Malibu, Calif., on Thursday.

"Our offense continues to struggle," Walton said. "Both of those matches, we allowed them to go on large point-scoring runs. Once you let a team open up that kind of a lead on you, it's tough to get back in."

Ball State is now 10-7 on the season with its next match Friday at George Mason University.

Walton said he saw enough improvement in his team over Spring Break that he hopes carries over throughout the rest of the season.

"It was important that we won the Grand Canyon match," Walton said. "We did play well at times against UCLA and Pepperdine. If we improve on things, by the end of the season, we will be able to compete with anyone in the MIVA Tournament."