The men's volleyball team picked up its second consecutive win Thursday as it defeated Clarke in three games, 30-17, 30-19, 30-20. It was the first of two meetings between the two Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association teams. The second will take place on April 6.
No. 8 Ball State (16-6 overall, 10-1 MIVA), playing at home for the first time in more than three weeks, faced a Clarke team that had not yet won a conference match. Before the game, head coach Joel Walton said that the true challenge in facing Clarke (5-15, 0-12) was keeping the team motivated. Afterward, he praised the team's defense while at the same time showed concern over the team's committing 17 service errors.
"I thought, defensively, we did a good job of both blocking and digging," Walton said. "We didn't serve very well. We missed too many serves. I don't know what is the cause of that other than just maybe a lack of focus."
In the match, the Cards held Clarke to hit only .020, including forcing 25 attack errors compared to allowing 27 kills. Leading Ball State's offense was Jary Delgado, with 10 kills in 14 tries. Doug Market had a match-high 11 digs.
The MIVA-leading Cards hold court again as they face No. 13 Ohio State Saturday night. Ball State already has a win against the Buckeyes this season, having previously defeated the team in five games in Columbus, Ohio. However, the season is drawing to a close and Walton says he wants to see the team play like the match is critical.
"Ohio State is a real critical match," Walton said, "and I want to see our guys come out and play like there is a sense of urgency that night, to play like it matters a lot to them."
As the team turns its attention to Ohio State, Walton said the match's attendance will be a huge factor come Saturday, despite knowing there is a setback to getting large numbers.
"Our crowd is really important on Saturday night," Walton said. "Even though Indiana is going to be playing at the same time as we are , we need to get some people here to support us against Ohio State because that is a real important match of our season."
With Ball State back in the lead of its conference and with few matches to play, Walton said the team must play intensely against Ohio State and for the remainder of its matches this season if it desires to obtain its goal of hosting -- and winning -- the MIVA conference championship.
"If we can get focused and play a real intense match, I think we are going to be in good shape," Walton said. "It's close enough to the end of the season where we need to be able to do that on a nightly basis."