The No. 15 Ball State men's volleyball team got off to the hottest start of the year at Worthen Arena on Jan. 15 against Harvard, scoring nine out of the first 10 points in the match.

With help from Matt Walsh’s serving, the Cardinals rallied off six consecutive points, forcing the Crimson to call a timeout within the first five minutes of the match. Coming out of the timeout, the Crimson responded by winning the first set 25-22.

See the gallery from the game here.

Brendan Surane

Kills - 20

Aces - 1

Receives - 36

Digs - 9

Blocks (solo, assists) - 1, 3

It began to look like last season's match at Cambridge where the Crimson swept the Cardinals 3-0.

“Last year we went out to Harvard, and they really gave it to us. They killed us, so we were just coming in thinking, 'We cant let that happen again,'” junior outside attacker Brendan Surane said. “We just got to go at them with everything we got, we can’t let them beat us again.”

Head coach Joel Walton quickly got his team back on track.

The Cardinals rapidly responded rallying off three straight set wins (25-21, 25-20, 25-23). Ball State gained momentum with Surane’s 10 kills in the second game and six in the third. 

“I talked to the guys just about competing; I felt like we got really timid in game one. ... We started to get back to either relaxing or just playing timid, but games two, three and the majority of game four, our guys played aggressive,” Walton said. “Against a team like Harvard, that’s going to make you uncomfortable because they run a very quick tempo to their left-side attacker.”

Surane dominated the offensive attack for the second straight night, racking up 20 kills in the match. The big game moved his kill total to 33 on the weekend. 

The 6-foot-6 junior credits his setter for his big night.

“Hiago [Garchet]’s just setting the balls, putting them in really good places. I was just doing the best I could; ball’s were falling tonight,” Surane said following the match.

In the fourth set, the Crimson began to regain momentum when sophomore middle attacker Matt Walsh and sophomore outside attacker Mitch Weiler had a key block, extending the lead to 12-9, forcing the Crimson to call yet another timeout. After the Crimson took a slight lead at 19-18, senior outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski slowed them down with a key kill.

Defensively, the Cardinals out dug the Crimson. True freshman Adam Wessel recorded 23 serve receives with only one error, giving him a receive percentage of .958.

Ball State recorded 10 team blocks in comparison to Harvard’s four and a half. In a match that had 23 total ties and seven lead changes, the Cardinals used their aggressive game plan to hold off any long runs from the Crimson.

“You just can't be passive, you got to be aggressive, you got to move your feet when you’re passing, you got to take aggressive swings as well, and I felt that was a real turning point in the match for us,” Walton said.

Mike ‘Skip’ Scannell, who received a concussion after colliding with teammate Matt Walsh in Jan. 14's game, returned to the Cardinals' bench.

“He’s going to be a day-by-day thing. The way the concussions work now, he has to be symptom-free and then go seven days after that before he'll be allowed to compete," Walton said. "It’s a process. We got to work the process and we'll get him back when he’s ready to be back."

After playing their first four games at home, the Cardinals are gearing up for a six-game road trip starting on Jan. 22.

The next time they play at home will be on Feb. 11 against Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne.