MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals regroup from OSU sweep to sweep No. 13 Loyola in regular season finale
Ball State begins MIVA Tournament vs. IPFW on Saturday
No. 15 Ball State University continues to get back up every time it is knocked down.
Ball State was soundly swept by No. 11 Ohio State University Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, as the Buckeyes clinched the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with the victory.
It took the Cardinals 24 hours to regroup.
Ball State swept No. 13 Loyola University 3-0 (30-25, 30-28, 30-28) Saturday night in Worthen Arena, claiming its second win over a ranked team this season.
"Our guys showed up and played great volleyball," coach Joel Walton said. "It was a night where I got to go along for the ride, and I love those kinds of nights."
It was one of the Cardinals' best offensive performances of the season against a ranked opponent. They ended the night with a .364 attack percentage, including .731 in game one.
"You are going to have to look back a long way before you see .731 in any game," Walton said. "That would have been spectacular if we could have maintained that kind of offensive
performance. To finish .364 against a team that would have been a MIVA co-champion, that's a good job by our guys."
Walton said that players used their victory over then-No. 3 California State University Northridge on March 27 as confidence for the victory over Loyola.
"One of the things that I like about our team, there are some leaders who are giving some great messages to our guys," he said. "Last night in St. John Arena [Ohio State's home court], as we were ready to dismiss our team from the locker room, Anders Nelson looks at our team and says, ‘Guys, this is just like Cal-State Northridge. Played horrible the first night, played great the second night.' What a great analogy and our guys bought into it."
Fast forward to Saturday night, as Ethan Pheister, Eric Schulte, Billy Ebel and Matt Sprague were honored on Senior Night after the victory.
Pheister said he uses the home atmosphere as motivation for strong play.
"When I'm on the road I try to play within myself, I try to do what I do well. I try not to let the fans get in my head," he said. "When I'm home I just let the energy from the fans feed me, and let the energy out that I want there."
Schulte matched his career-high with a team-best 15 kills against Loyola after having a team-high 12 kills against Ohio State.
"It's really just going out there and enjoying the time out there on the court," Schulte said. "I just wanted to come out and play my best because I know I don't have all that much longer regardless what happens in the tournament."
Ball State had three players with double-digit kills Saturday as middle attackers Anders Nelson and J.D. Gasparovic added 13 and 12 kills. Outside attacker Lee Meyer came close to joining the trio as he had nine kills.
"It makes it really easy to run an offense when you have five good options and passing coming out," Pheister said.
Ball State took game one with a 10-6 run to close out the game. Schulte had three kills during that span.
The Cardinals took a 14-to-4.5 advantage in blocks against the Ramblers with Gasparovic accounting for nine blocks with one solo.
"The blocking is something that demoralizes your opponent, and it is also a big energy boost for our team," Walton said. "J.D. with nine blocks tonight, Anders with four. Lee Meyer had five; he did a good job on his side of the net."
Ball State enters the MIVA tournament as the No. 4 seed. The Cardinals will host No. 5 seed IPFW Saturday night at Worthen Arena in what will likely be the final home match for the four seniors on Ball State's squad.
"I try not to think about it," Schulte said. "I don't think it's hit me yet, and I don't think it will hit me until the end of the season."