MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State downs No. 8 Ohio State in front of electric crowd
The Six Flags theme music echoed throughout Worthen Arena, but it was not an old man with a top hat and cane dancing—it was 2562 Ball State fans anticipating set point and effectively match point.
With the score 24-21 the last rally only lasted about 15 seconds, but it felt like 15 minutes. When senior outside attacker Jamion Hartley met the ball at its pinnacle of ascent and brought it crashing down to the ground to beat No. 8 Ohio State 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-21), euphoria set in and was epitomized by junior setter Graham McIlvaine dropping to his knees, fists pumping and being bum rushed by the rest of the Ball State volleyball team.
Only the electric atmosphere generated by the fourth-largest crowd in Ball State volleyball history matched their energy.
“The fans absolutely helped us, I know I was pumped up to play my best,” McIlvaine said.
Earlier this week Hartley promised his best performance of the year if the fans were there to galvanize him. Hartley’s match-leading 15 kills and three assisted blocks were more than enough to reward the fans for showing up.
In its second win over a ranked opponent in the midst of a six-game winning streak, Ball State showed its ability to dominate and its reserve to come back from behind.
The first two sets looked like a varsity team scrimmaging the JV. Ball Sate outhit Ohio State .320 to .097, and never trailed in either set.
The third set saw the Cardinals down early and often, by as much as five points. But after a mini-spurt the scored was tied at 15-15. At that point it was a race to 10.
A side-out battle brought the match to 18-18 when sophomore David Ryan Vander Meer toed the service line. After two points Ohio State called a timeout.
“I just said ‘it’s a five point game, and we have to come out and play our game and we’re going to win this match,’” McIlvaine said in the short break.
The last five points for the Cardinals brought sheer pandemonium to Worthen, with the bench coming half way onto the court with each point.
When the emotions of winning cooled off coach Joel Walton got back into his coaching persona, and tried to look toward the future.
“We still have six matches left,” Walton said. “I don’t want us to feel like this is it, we still have much more to accomplish.”