No. 12 Ball State men's volleyball rallies in 2 come-from-behind wins

Senior, Connor Gross sets up Anthony Lebryk in the match against Quincy on March 31 in Worthen Arena. Alicia M. Barnachea // DN
Senior, Connor Gross sets up Anthony Lebryk in the match against Quincy on March 31 in Worthen Arena. Alicia M. Barnachea // DN

In both of its weekend matches, No. 12 Ball State men's volleyball fell behind after the first set.

But, like several other times this season, the Cardinals rallied to pull out a pair of wins.

"It's good to show the resilience of our team," senior outside attacker Edgardo Cartagena said. "Dropping a set is no big deal. It shows the maturity of our team to be able to bounce back from any situation like that." 

Ball State (17-8, 8-6 MIVA) came back from a 2-1 deficit two sets to defeat Quincy 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 24-26, 26-24, 15-12) Friday, and beat Lindenwood 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-18) after dropping the first set Saturday.

In both matches, reserve players set career highs, which Cartagena said showed the Cardinals' depth.

In the win over Quincy on Friday, sophomore middle attacker Parker Swartz finished with a career-high five kills, with two of them coming in the crucial fifth set.

"We felt confident in his ability to be on the court and make plays and he took advantage of that opportunity," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said. "We've often included Parker in our serving game but he's showed that he can do a good job with the front row too." 

Against Lindenwood Saturday, freshman outside attacker Blake Reardon hit a career-high 10 kills. He transferred the energy he usually has dancing on the bench to the court.

"It's nice to be able to go in and make an impact and not just watch from the sidelines hoping that you can go in," Reardon said. "We were playing great and it just brought the energy up." 

After being out-blocked 16-11 by Quincy on Friday, the Cardinals out-blocked Lindenwood 13-8. Their block helped to hold the Lions to negative attack percentages in the second and fourth sets.

"We had a really sound block and good defense [on Saturday]," freshman outside attacker Matt Szews said. "That's a combination that's really hard to hit a positive number off of." 

Szews and junior middle attacker Matt Walsh led the Cardinals with 22 kills each in the two matches. Walton said he felt Szews struggled early in both matches, but was able to respond in the later sets.

"I was glad that Szews was able to use the time on the bench to refresh," Walton said. "But from the time he came back in, I felt that he was more relaxed and he didn't press as much." 

Szews also tied Adam Wessell for the most digs of the weekend with 20 and also added five service aces.

"I had to just take a step back and relax and trust that [senior setter Connor Gross] would give me a good ball and we'd pass well," Szews said. "I didn't really think — I just played."

The Cardinals finish Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season play next week against No. 7 Lewis Thursday and No. 10 Loyola-Chicago Saturday. Both matches will be at 7:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena.


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