Ball State setter Connor Gross celebrates with outside attacker Matt Szews after the Cardinals won the second set of the game against Saint Francis Jan. 12 in Worthen Arena. Ball State won against Lindenwood and Quincy on Feb. 25. Terence K. Lightning Jr. // DN File
Momentum carries No. 12 Ball State men's volleyball in two road wins
After starting their weekend by dropping a set to winless Lindenwood, No. 12 Ball State men's volleyball could've panicked and given the Lions, as Ball State head coach Joel Walton described it, "a night where something special is going to happen for them."
Instead, the Cardinals (13-4, 5-3 MIVA) used momentum to carry them to win six straight sets in their wins over Lindenwood and Quincy for two conference road wins.
"We were able to force a few more errors, both serving and attacking, and we were able to switch the momentum around," Walton said. "Anytime you're able to get road wins it's very significant so I'm pleased that we were able to gut these out."
Weekend Stat Leaders:
Kills: Matt Szews - 26
Assists: Connor Gross - 75
Service Aces: Matt Szews - 6
Digs: Nick Lavanchy - 16
Ball State defeated Lindenwood 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 27-25) on Friday night and then won in straight sets against Quincy (25-18, 25-14, 25-17). Walton was impressed with the team's passing over the weekend in the two wins.
"Our passers were really comfortable getting that ball up to [senior setter Connor Gross] so he had whatever options that he wanted to run," Walton said. "He used a lot of different attackers, different approach routes and we were able to keep the defense off-balance."
The Cardinals also served well over the weekend. They finished with a total of 10 service aces through the two matches, with six of them coming from freshman outside attacker Matt Szews. His four service aces against Quincy was a career high.
"Coach Furnish has been working with Matt on moving it with a little more spin at times and also hitting off-speed with his serve," Walton said. "He's someone that puts a lot of pressure on people with his serve."
After the 3-1 win over Lindenwood, Walton said he wanted his team to be more consistent offensively from start to finish in their matches. The team listened, as the Cardinals had an attack percentage of .506 in Saturday night's win over Quincy — their highest attack percentage since Jan. 26, 2013.
"We were firing on all cylinders and we were able to pass their serve efficiently," Walton said. "[Junior middle attacker Matt Walsh] had a really good night, [junior middle attacker Anthony LeBryk] had a really good night in the middle and both [senior outside attacker Brendan Surane] and Szews were really on fire."
The Cardinals also had a strong performance from freshman libero Nick Lavanchy who finished the weekend with 16 digs, nine against Lindenwood and seven against Quincy. Lavanchy and sophomore Adam Wessell have both split time at the libero position this season.
Ball State will be home next week for two matches against Grand Canyon Wednesday and Thursday. Both matches begin at 7:30 p.m.