Worthen Arena was filled with red and white March 25 as No. 9 Ball State men’s volleyball (17-6, 9-2 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) hosted No. 1 Ohio State (19-3, 10-1 MIVA). 

It was a rematch of the Feb. 6 matchup in Columbus, Ohio, where the Cardinals upset the Buckeyes in five sets. This time, it was the Cardinals who fell to the Buckeyes in four sets (22-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-25).

Head coach Joel Walton said his team competed for three of the four sets, but were not able to create enough offense to pull out the victory.

“We have to generate consistent offense,” Walton said. “For three games tonight we were out hitting Ohio State, so for three games our offense was doing some really good things. We got to game four and our offense went away."

Despite three total team blocks and a higher team attack percentage, the Cardinals could not finish off the Buckeyes in the first set. Junior outside attacker Brendan Surane led all players with five kills in the set.

Ball State came back in set two, tallying four total team blocks along with a .290 attack percentage. The Buckeyes were held to an attack percentage of .100, and the Cardinals were able to hang on despite the Buckeyes scoring six consecutive points.

“The wheels came off in the fourth set; their serving really got to us,” Surane said.

The Cardinals never led in the third set. After two controversial calls early in the fourth set, the Cardinals were down quickly 9-2. Freshman middle attacker Matt Walsh went up for an overhead swing that appeared to have swiped the fingertips of a Buckeye player. 

The point was given to Ohio State. 

On the following play, a similar situation occurred, but this time the ball was called a touch on Ball State's end, and the point went to Ohio State.

“We do everything to win it except get the call from the officials,” Walton said. “We need to be a little more mature in that moment and not let that bury us. That was a pretty solid emotional blow for us in game four that we didn’t overcome.”

The Cardinals would never get within five for the remainder of the match. Surane once again led all Cardinals in kills with 13.

“I’m frustrated because I think that our team played well tonight,” Walton said. “I thought we competed, we just needed a couple more plays at different times and we weren’t able to come up with them.”

Even with the loss, Ball State sits at second in the MIVA, and junior middle attacker Alex Pia believes his team is capable of competing with anyone in the upcoming conference tournament and beyond.

“We're a really good team, we just need to fine tune all of our skills. We have all the guys to make a run to the national championship this year,” Pia said.

Pia finished with six kills and seven blocks in the match against Ohio State.

Ball State host's McKendree March 26 in its last regular-season home match of the season. Senior setter Hiago Garchet and senior outside attackers Jack Lesure and Marcin Niemczewski will all be honored for Senior Night.