Freshman outside attacker Matt Szews hits the ball over the net during the game against Fort Wayne on Feb. 7 in Worthen Arena. The No. 11 Cardinals fell to No. 7 Lewis and No. 10 Loyola-Chicago on the road this weekend. Kyle Crawford // DN File
Ball State men's volleyball loses consecutive matches for the first time this season
Mitch Perinar and Ben Plaisted are two names the Ball State men's volleyball team won't want to hear about any time soon.
The two left-handed servers gave the No. 11 Cardinals (11-4, 3-3 MIVA) trouble on their road trip to Illinois. Perinar finished with 15 kills and three service aces in Lewis' win over Ball State Friday, and Plaisted had 12 kills and three service aces in the Cardinals' loss to the Loyola Ramblers.
"We had two guys who aren't typically their team's best servers go on big runs against us," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said. "Our serve receive wasn't able to hold up and we weren't able to produce any kind of offense on a consistent basis."
Weekend stat leaders
Kills: Matt Szews — 26
Assists: Connor Gross — 73
Digs: Matt Szews — 17
Ball State started off the weekend with a 3-1 loss to No. 7 Lewis (25-27, 25-21, 25-17, 25-17) and followed that with a 3-0 defeat at No. 10 Loyola-Chicago (25-22, 25-11, 25-23).
The Cardinals had poor offensive performances with hitting percentages of .198 against Lewis and a season-low .146 against Loyola.
"These last two nights, our hitting percentages have just been horrible," Walton said. "We have to tweak some things and try to get our guys be more confident so they can be aggressive at various times throughout the course of a match."
Walton said he would've liked to have seen better passing from the team this weekend.
"We have to look at why some teams have been able to get us in moments where we're passing a safe ball and not where we want to run our offense," Walton said. "When our passing isn't well, our attackers have to hit high balls against two or three blockers instead of attacking one-on-one."
Ball State has historically struggled on the road against both Lewis and Loyola. The Cardinals haven't won at Lewis since 2010 and haven't won at Loyola since before 2000. Walton, however, said it was more the Cardinals' lack of production than the environments that played a factor this weekend.
"We just struggled playing consistently," Walton said. "We've got to do some inventory of how we're playing and look at how we can correct and get our guys back on track."
The most consistent player for the Cardinals this weekend was freshman outside attacker Matt Szews. Szews had double-digit kills in both matches (14 against Lewis, 12 against Loyola) and also had 10 digs against Lewis.
The Cardinals will remain on the road next week as they prepare for matches at 7 p.m. Friday against Lindenwood and at 7 p.m. Saturday against Quincy.