No. 14 Ball State (2-1, 0-0 MIVA) failed to sweep its three-match homestand Monday as it lost 3-0 to No. 3 California-Irvine (3-0, 0-0 Big West).

Head coach Joel Walton said he was surprised with the team’s performance, especially after two consistent efforts on offense in the Cardinals’ first two matches Friday and Saturday.

“I felt like we played tired, and we never typically play three matches in four nights,” Walton said. “Irvine seemed to play more fresh in our gym, so that was the most disappointing thing to me.”

The Cardinals dropped the first set 25-20 as Jake Romano would lead the team with a perfect hitting percentage and 11 assists. A late four-point rally featuring two kills from junior outside attacker Blake Reardon was not enough to complete a comeback in the second set as the Cardinals once again fell, 25-20.

The Cardinals would begin the third set with an early 7-4 lead, but they dropped the set 25-22, giving the Anteaters the sweep.

Reardon ended the match second on the team with eight kills. Senior outside hitter David Siebum had nine. Reardon said he was satisfied with his performance but not the team’s serves.

“It felt fun for me, but we rely on certain guys on the team and we just didn’t serve the way we wanted to,” Reardon said. “We always seem to have problems with serving.”

Monday’s match saw a 12-game winning streak at Worthen Arena come to an end for the Cardinals. Despite the loss, the Cardinals led the Anteaters in both aces and blocks.

The Cardinals will go on the road starting Thursday against No. 11 Stanford followed by a match at No. 5 Brigham-Young Saturday. Walton said he hopes to see improvements in consistency throughout all areas heading into the team’s next matches. 

“We’re playing against two very high-ranked teams in their gyms,” Walton said. “We need to take a step forward.”

Contact Connor Smith with comments at cnsmith@bsu.edu or on Twitter @cnsmithbsu.