DAVE'S DIGS: Despite losses, now not the time for panic
_David Polaski is a junior journalism and telecommunications major and writes ‘Dave’s Digs’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For fans following the men’s volleyball team, it seems like the perfect time to be nervous.
Ball State lost in comeback fashion to Loyola and Lewis last week, after blowing 2-0 leads in each. The Cardinals dropped to 0-4 against those teams for the season, teams they’ll likely have to face in the postseason.
But this is no time to hit the panic button — not when looking deeper inside the box score.
Lost in the disbelief that Ball State squandered two potential wins against top Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association teams, it’s easy to forget Ball State was actually winning those matches 2-0.
It isn’t a matter of Ball State losing because of a talent differential. Teams can’t take a 2-0 lead on dangerous squads like Loyola and Lewis unless the talent is there.
Through the first two sets against Lewis, Ball State was hitting .362. Matt Leske and Matt Sutherland had a combined 27 attacks and were both hitting above .400. The team had a staggering 16.5 blocks.
Lewis made adjustments, mainly pulling Greg Petty and funneling the offense through Geoff Powell. The adjustments made by Ball State were largely unsuccessful, as they failed to slow down the Lewis offense.
Ball State even led the fifth set 12-10 and had Lewis on the ropes before Powell stole momentum and the match. The Cardinals were just three points away from winning. Against Loyola, Ball State dropped the fourth set by three and the fifth set by just two.
Those aren’t blowouts. They’re nail biters in which the outcome could be changed by one adjustment, or a couple of lucky bounces.
It wasn’t as if Ball State head coach Joel Walton wasn’t trying to make adjustments. Walton continuously rotated Larry Wrather and Sutherland in and out depending on the situation, citing Wrather’s serving ability.
The loss puts Lewis in second place in the MIVA and means if Ball State finishes third, the team would have to go on the road in the MIVA semifinal, assuming Loyola, Lewis and Ball State all advance.
The two losses make the road to a conference championship harder, but not impossible.
Ball State proved it has the ability to travel to Loyola and put the Ramblers on the brink of defeat. Now it just has to take the final step and finish off opponents. Ball State will likely get a chance to redeem itself against those teams in the MIVA Tournament.
The team isn’t panicking, and fans shouldn’t either.