MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardiac Cardinals survive against Grand Canyon
Down 2-1, Ball State makes big comeback to narrowly defeat Antelopes
Facing a focused and driven Grand Canyon team and down 2-1 heading into the fourth game, Ball State could have easily folded and lost the match.
But the Cardinals weren't about to lie down and give up.
Ball State battled hard into the fourth game and for the rest of the match, eventually snatching a 3-2 (25-12, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-13) comeback victory over Grand Canyon in Worthen Arena Saturday night.
The win capped a 2-0 weekend for Ball State (16-9, 6-4 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Conference). Ball State defeated Grand Canyon Friday as well by a score of 3-1 .
But following the Cardinals' victory on Friday, the Antelopes came out with a renewed sense of determination Saturday in an attempt for a conference upset.
"They played with such great intensity, and we didn't match it at times," middle blocker J.D. Gasparovic said. "They battled and they fought. As the game went on, we knew what we had to do. So we stepped up and got some intensity back."
Ball State pulled off an impressive first game, easily dispatching Grand Canyon 25-12 on the legs of mistake-free offense and tough-nosed defense. The Cardinals' play amounted to a .579 attack percentage, one attack error and 13 digs.
From that point on, it was a dog fight.
An inept offensive attack plagued Ball State in the second and third games, as it finished with success rates of .132 and .172 in the two sets, respectively.
Following the first set, coach Joel Walton dug deep into his bench in search of a spark to pull the Cardinals from their slump.
Setter Dan Wichmann and outside attacker Jamion Hartley didn't disappoint in filling that role.
"I'm really pleased with the play of Dan Wichmann off the bench tonight," Walton said. "He got our offense going again. Jamion Hartley came in and did a nice job as well. Those guys came off the bench and did some great things for us when we needed them."
Hartley finished the match with 10 kills and a .471 attack percentage, while Wichmann ended with 19 assists.
Gasparovic led Ball State with 11 kills as well as well as a match-high five blocks.
Ball State will face a another pair of conference matches next weekend, as it travels to play Loyola on Friday before returning home for a match with IPFW on Saturday.