No. 11 Ball State men's volleyball led 23-22 in the fourth set, looking for a comeback victory after going down 2-1 against McKendree.
But the Bearcats found themselves with their most consistent player of the night behind the service line.
Senior opposite Maalik Walker served the final three points of the night for McKendree, including one of his four service aces, to finish off the 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-23) upset victory over the Cardinals. It was McKendree's first win over a ranked team this season.
The Cardinals struggled on the block against Walker, who finished the match with 16 kills and leads the Bearcats with 230 kills this season.
"Coach Furnish was pretty frustrated with the job that our left side blockers did against him tonight," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said. "We just weren't physically able to take away the shots that he was hitting and we continued to be in the wrong places."
Ball State started off the match strong going on a 7-0 run and won the first set 25-22, but then dropped three consecutive sets in its third road conference loss of the season. Walton said he wasn't pleased with the Cardinals' blocking — they were outblocked 11.5 to 9 by the Bearcats.
"They shouldn't be a better blocking team than us but it's kind of similar to what we saw in the postseason tournament last year," Walton said. "If their serve gets going and and we're not passing the ball well then we're not as skilled as we need to be when we're hitting balls out of system."
The Cardinals also struggled to slow down sophomore outside hitter Will Frank. His 16 kills were a career high.
Ball State was led by junior middle attacker Matt Walsh, who finished with 11 kills and three service aces, both season highs. Walsh also finished with an attack percentage of .556 in the loss.
However, Ball State's other outside attackers freshman Matt Szews and senior Edgardo Cartagena both finished with attack percentages below .100.
"They really struggled and weren't able to terminate balls and they both picked up a number of errors tonight," Walton said.
The Cardinals will be back in action at 7 p.m. Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, against No. 2 Ohio State.