Cardinals improve to 4-0 in conference play

No. 9 Ball State played two conference road matches over the weekend and won both to improve their overall record to 9-1, 4-0 in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association.

The team is on a four-game winning streak, all conference matches, since suffering its first loss of the season to Rutgers-Newark.

The first match of the weekend, against IPFW Friday, featured a mix of offense and commanding defense from Ball State, earning a total 17.5 team blocks on the match.

The Cardinals jumped on the Mastadons in game one, hitting an outstanding .450 while holding IPFW to -.038. They could not, however, sustain their high level of offense as it trailed during the next two games. Ball State lost a close game three that could have meant its fifth sweep on the season. Instead, the team settled for a four-game match, returning to its offensive ways in game four. Like game one, the final game was won with a high percentage from the offense while holding the Mastadons to a negative percentage.

"Our guys came out motivated and ready to play," head coach Joel Walton said. "For the first two games, we kept their crowds quiet and didn't give them much to cheer about."

The Cards took the match, its third straight on the MIVA, 30-20, 30-25, 28-30, 30-14.

The second match against Mercyhurst was a bit different, if not easier. In the first game, the wide gap of experience between the two teams seemed to show as Ball State again opened up the flood gates in the game, hitting .889 and limiting the Lakers to a low .037.

The offense for Ball State again started disappear in the next game. The Cards hit .406 and Mercyhurst began to find its own offense. It wasn't enough, however, as Ball State squeezed out a 31-29 game three win for the sweep.

"In game three, (Mercyhurst's) crowd started to get into it," Walton said. "We were able to come back and win despite Mercyhurst getting two gamepoints."

Ball State has a lighter week than what had been originally scheduled. The team was set to play two home matches this week, Thursday against Quincy and Friday against Tri State. Friday's match, however, was canceled because of a scheduling conflict. The matchup with Quincy, which starts at 7 p.m., is a conference match.