MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State sneaks out win over D-II Limestone
It looked like a trap match on the schedule, and Limestone did its best to make it exactly that. The Division II program kept No. 15 Ball State volleyball on its heels for a majority of the night.
Sheer talent coupled with fortuitous bounces and propitious calls tipped the scales in Ball State’s favor, and eventually willed it to an unattractive 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-19) sweep.
The Cardinals looked ankles deep in the floor for the first two sets, and saw themselves fall behind early and often. The Saints even stretched leads out to five points over the seemingly unprepared Cardinals.
“After the past couple weeks and weekends we had, I think we kind of put the brakes on in practice, we didn’t practice well at all,” senior outside hitter Jamion Hartley said. “We were sore, my knees are shot.”
Earlier this week coach Joel Walton stressed the freshly-ranked Cardinals could not over looked the Saints. But compounding factors such as emotional hangovers after wins against rivals IPFW and then-No. 8 Ohio State, playing in front of 2, 562 last Friday and only 542 this week, being awarded a ranking for the first time in two years and Easter Sunday on the horizon made Ball State look complacent.
“It was hard to get motivated for this one,” Hartley said. “We knew they weren’t a Penn State or an Ohio State or somebody like that.”
Limestone’s tip and roll shots kept Ball State out of system and out of rhythm for the first to matches, in which Ball State only hit .177. Ball State’s passing kept setter Graham McIlvaine off the net, and allowed Limestone to set up blocking schemes that frazzled attackers.
Finally in the third set the Cardinals handled the Saints like a ranked team should handle a Division II school.
How did they do it?
“The coaches just kept yelling at us,” Hartley said laughing.
The third set saw Ball State simply over power Limestone, starting with one of Hartley’s match-leading 17 kills and never relinquishing the lead.
Walton hopes that this game can be a galvanizing effect for the team, which plays another Division II team in Pfieffer.
“Tonight should be a wake up call, we gave Limestone a chance to take one,” Walton said. “We’ve got to be ready to step on the court and make things happen.”