A substantial amount of effort offensively was required for Ball State Men’s Volleyball (2-0, 0-0 MIVA) to carve out a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Institute of Technology (0-2, 0-0 EIVA) Saturday night after gaining the sweep over Princeton on Friday.
“We played two very good games at the beginning of the match,” head coach Joel Walton said. “In games three and four, we stopped connecting offensively and meanwhile our serve wasn’t doing a very good job. Thankfully, as we got into the fifth set, we found some offense again and we were able to win the match.”
The Cardinals would take a 25-20 victory over the Highlanders in the first set led by three aces from junior outside attacker Matt Szews and four kills each from both freshman outside attacker Kaleb Jenness and senior outside hitter David Siebum. The Cardinals would also go on to win the second set, 25-17.
However, the Cardinals would drop their first set of the season in the third, as the Highlanders took multiple four point leads to eventually win the game, 25-22. The Highlanders took their momentum into the fourth set with a four point lead early on, forcing the Cardinals to take a timeout. Although multiple kills from Szews and Siebum would pull the Cardinals to a one point deficit at 19-20, the Highlanders would ultimately go on to win another game and tie the match at two.
Returning to their starting lineup from the beginning of the match after seeing five season debuts, the Cardinals would go on to win the fifth set and the match 3-2 on a game-winning kill from Siebum. Junior setter Jake Romano also played a key part in the victory with 44 assists on the night.
Being one of the team’s three seniors, Siebum saw his game-winning play as an example his leadership. Although the Cardinals have had a successful start, they are still continuing to work on consistency in a variety of areas.
“Last year, I struggled with a couple of injuries so it’s good to come out with a nice start,” Siebum said. “I think the first two sets went really well but the third and fourth made us realized when we need to kick it up a notch.”
As the Cardinals conclude their three-match home stand on Monday against UC-Irvine, Walton said he is hoping that the team makes the most of their home court advantage and uses their day off on Sunday wisely.
“Irvine is a good team, so our guys have to make sure they’re watching video and they need to bring familiar with what Irvine brings to the table,” Walton said.