MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State shows life, but swept by No. 3 Cal State Northridge
Two teams conclude series tonight in annual Don Shondell Challenge
At 1,486 people it was one of the largest and loudest crowds for a Ball State University's men's volleyball game this season.
But no matter how much the volume increased in Worthen Arena Friday night, No. 3 Cal State Northridge had an answer.
The Matadors swept the Cardinals, 30-22, 30-24, 30-28.
Ball State was even with Cal State Northridge for most of all three games before Cal State went on big scoring runs to close out each game.
"They didn't make errors," middle attacker Anders Nelson said. "We went on streaks where we would make a couple of errors in a row, and they just didn't have those streaks."
The Matadors went on a 16-7 run to close out game one after being down 15-14. History repeated itself in game two with tied score of 11 all before the Matadors ended the match on a 19-13 spurt.
"In games one and two we showed at times we were capable of playing with that team," coach Joel Walton said. "It just got down to the consistency needed. It wasn't errors where we were getting blocked on. I think they do a good job on their blocking scheme but we were just hitting balls out of bounds."
Ball State made line-up changes in game three, pulling libero Billy Ebel and outside attacker Lee Meyer for outside attackers Dominic Spadavecchio and Matt Sprague. Walton also moved Larry Wrather from outside to libero in game three.
"It seemed to work," Walton said. "The group we put out there in the third game did a really nice job. Larry Wrather made some plays as our libero and passed well. It was a change and it was a change that we need to make. I got a little bit frustrated that we were giving away easy balls."
Ball State took 25-22 lead in game three before Cal State Northridge went on an 8-3 run to seal the match. Nelson said he still looks at the third game as a confidence builder for when the two teams meet again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Worthen Arena.
"We really wanted to focus on the first 10 points on the third game," Nelson said. "Make sure we didn't get down early because that could have shot our chances to win and I know we can play with them at least and tomorrow night should be a good match."
Ball State drops to 12-8 on the year. Cal State Northridge pads their record to 16-6.
Not a single Cardinal had double digit kills on the night while the Matadors had two.
Outside attacker Eric Schulte led the Cardinals in kills with eight and led both teams in digs with 10. He started in place of outside attacker Jamion Hartley who did not play because of coach's decision.
"I always get kind of excited and extra focus when Penn State or teams that don't come to Muncie very often or you go out there," Schulte said. "The crowd was awesome, really helped us out. It's disappointing that we couldn't win that third game."