Sophomore middle attacker Matt Walsh bumps the ball during the match against Harvard on Jan. 15 at Worthen Arena. DN FILE PHOTO BREANNA DAUGHERTY
Pair of men's volleyball players competing against 'best friend'
More than 700 miles outside of Worthen Arena, sophomore middle attacker Matt Walsh and sophomore outside attacker Mitch Weiler saw a familiar face on the other side of the net.
The Ball State men's volleyball team took on New Jersey Institute of Technology on Jan. 29. Walsh and Weiler took on their old teammate and friend, Kevin Myren of NJIT.
Myren, a red-shirt freshman from Oak Lawn, Ill., sat on the opposing side of his old teammates for the first time at the collegiate level.
“It was kind of weird playing against him,” Walsh said. “Just seeing [Myren] and watching video of him was just the weirdest thing I ever did, especially when our coach is talking about him and his tendencies — it was just weird.”
The three Chicago area natives have been friends since grammar school. Weiler and Myren attended Brother Rice High School, while Walsh attended Mount Carmel just 30 minutes up the road.
All three of them also played for the Ultimate Volleyball Club together prior to college.
Walsh is no stranger to facing off against someone he’s close to. Last season, he competed against his older brother Bobby Walsh, who plays middle back for Lewis University.
“[It was] weirder than playing my brother; I’ve watched my brother play at that level and I was just so used to playing with [Myren],” Walsh said.
Walsh, Weiler and Myren were among 19 athletes in the class of 2014 Ultimate Volleyball Club that went on to compete in men’s volleyball at the collegiate level.
With that tight-knit connection came cheering from the other side as well, as Myren's entire family was accustomed to cheering for Walsh and Weiler.
“What was really cool was that [Myren's] whole family was able to fly out to Newark, [N.J.] so we got to see them," Weiler said. “We heard them cheering for both sides a little bit.”
During the match, the Cardinals swept the Highlanders in three straight sets. Weiler had six kills and a block assist, while Walsh added four kills.
“We play against a lot of our club players,” Weiler said. “But [Myren] is just a really good friend, so it’s something special.”