Ball State men's volleyball (8-7) is on its first three-match win streak of the season after tonight's four-set victory over Quincy (26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18).
The first set of tonight's contest saw leads for both teams. Although Ball State suffered from a number of early attack errors, it managed to come out on top in the first set. After a 14-12 Ball State lead, Quincy came up with some clutch kills that would come close to allowing the Hawks to take the first set. However, Ball State sophomore outside attackers Matt Szews and Blake Reardon combined for a pair of kills to keep the Cardinals within two, to take the first set 26-24.
"Neither team attacked well in set one," head coach Joel Walton said. "We kept it close with some good defensive plays. As the passing improved in the later sets, we saw improvement elsewhere, too. We got better passes to Jake that made us better offensively."
The Cardinals did find a way to come back from the attack errors, recording just three in the second set. Kills by Reardon and senior middle attacker Matt Walsh put the Cardinals in a good position from the start of the set. With points recorded from a trio of Hawks in senior outside hitter Anthony Winter, freshman outside hitter Brendon Estrada and redshirt junior right side Brandon Davis, Quincy kept itself in the set. However, between service errors and Rearson and Walsh's offense, Quincy couldn't hold on.
Ball State senior outside attacker Mitch Weiler rounded out the set with a final kill to defeat Quincy in the second set, 25-20.
Set three was started by Winter as he rattled off four early points to give the Hawks an early 9-5 lead. Quincy would go on to strengthen that lead with a pair of kills from Estrada and senior middle blocker Shane McAdams to make it 16-9, the biggest lead Quincy had took in the match.
An effort from Ball State freshman outside hitter Ben Chinnici, Walsh and Weiler brought the team within one, but Ball State ultimately dropped the third set 25-23.
However, the Cardinals took the lead in the fourth set and never looked back. The team took over the fourth set with kills recorded by Szews, Walsh and Weiler to give Ball State an immediate lead and ultimately took the fourth set 25-18 to seal the match win.
"Blake's passing in this set helped us a lot and he became the go-to offensive guy with some critical kills," Walton said. "Walsh's serves were extremely helpful along with his blocking and attacking."
Reardon led the Cardinals with 15 kills, while Walsh finished with 12. Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Defensive Player of the Week Jake Romano contributed to Ball State's victory with 41 assists, while Weiler put up 12 digs. The Cardinals ended the night with a .279 hitting percentage and 56 kills as a team.
Ball State will continue MIVA play Saturday night against Lindenwood as it travels to St. Charles, Missouri. The match is set to start at 7:30 p.m.
"Tomorrow's match against Lindenwood is a critical conference match," Walton said. "Road wins are huge, in or out of the conference. We'd like to see a better start and to find some comfort early in the match."