Forcing a fifth set after going down 2-1 was not enough to lift No. 14 Ball State (2-4, 0-0 MIVA) over No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (4-3, 0-0 Big West) Friday. The Cardinals fell to the Gauchos 3-2 in day one of the Don Shondell Active Ankle Challenge in Worthen Arena.
Head coach Joel Walton said he saw promising signs on offense from the Cardinals but not enough for the victory.
“When we generate offense, we’re right there with everybody,” Walton said. “When we struggle, we’re not strong enough on defense to cover for [our mistakes].”
The Gauchos would open set one with a four-point scoring run. This quickly forced a Cardinal timeout, which proved beneficial as leads in every offensive category would boost the Cardinals to win the set, 25-22.
However, a mixture of quality offense and defense would propel the Gauchos to win sets two and three, 25-18 and 25-15, respectively. Junior middle attacker Lemuel Turner would earn his first kill of the season in set three.
Hungry to tie the match, Turner, junior outside attacker Matt Szews and senior middle attacker Parker Swartz would give the Cardinals an early 5-4 lead in set four. The Cardinals never looked back and won the set 25-15 on a four-point run. Senior outside hitter David Siebum scored the game-winning point.
Siebum carried his momentum into set five, recording five kills in the set alone. Despite the looks of a comeback, multiple attack and service errors proved costly as the Cardinals dropped the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
Freshman outside attacker Kaleb Jenness finished the match with 22 kills. Junior setter Jake Romano had 50 assists. Siebum said giving up multiple runs hurt the team in its final set.
“I think we started really well tonight,” Siebum said. “We passed really well. Hitting we had some ups and downs. I think we had some bright spots, but it’s just about limiting our own errors.”
The Cardinals will conclude the Don Shondell Active Ankle Challenge Saturday against No. 10 California State Northridge at 7 p.m. The Matadors are coming off a 3-2 victory over No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne.
“We’ve got to have an understanding of what [California State Northridge] likes to do in specific rotations and make sure the guys understand that so we can keep the defense
simple,” Walton said.