MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Shots bounce Cardinals' way in upset win
Ball State outblocks Penn State to secure victory
Moving toward the back of the court, Marcus Imwalle stumbled and fell to the floor. It should have been an easy point for Penn State. Not on Friday night. Imwalle fell onto his back, but still managed to pop the ball into the air allowing Ball State to steal the point.
Everything went Ball State's way in a dominating 3-0 win.
"When you've got a bully on the block the way to beat them is punch them in the nose and don't let them get up," Ball State coach Joel Walton said. "Just keep punching them until they're dead."
The Cardinals seemingly did that. Every time Penn State made a run, or threatened to pull away, Ball State would make a momentum-shifting play.
Ball State out blocked Penn State 15.5 to 4 and made Penn State look as if they were punched out in a prize fight.
"This was the first time all year I felt we did not compete," said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik. "The season's not over. You don't build a sky-scraper to the 90th floor of 110 floor building and say that's good enough. That's the way I felt about our play tonight. We showed some flashes of playing good volleyball."
Jamion Hartley went up for an attack but found a wall of Penn State defenders in his way. In his own Michael Jordan way, Hartley defied gravity and hung in the air a split second longer than the wall. In that split second Hartley smashed a kill.
It was plays that electrified the crowd. Kills from Larry Wrather and Hartley made Worthen Arena explode. A ball was blasted down the line for a kill after the Cardinals recovered from the ball taking an odd bounce—off a player's face.
"We wanted to play with no fear and we did just that," J.D. Gasparovic said. "Earlier [in the year] when they made a play we'd back down and lose momentum. This time everyone was ‘no, not happening' and that just woke everyone up."
Even in its darkest moment, trailing by six in the second game, Ball State never felt out of control. The Cardinals chipped away at the Nittany Lion lead and finished off the set for the win.
The night wasn't just about Ball State and Penn State, however. The Cardinals also honored the founder of the men's volleyball program, Don Shondell. Players said they were not only playing for the first Ball State win against Penn State since 2006, but playing in tribute of Shondell and all he's given to the program.
"We just want to thank him [Don Shondell]; he was the one that started this for us," Wrather said. "Getting him a good win like this also helps the program show it's still around."