Despite facing a .238 to .121 deficit in hitting percentage, No. 13Ball State Men’s Volleyball (4-4, 1-0 MIVA) began conference play with a 3-1 victory over No. 12 Ohio State (3-4, 0-1 MIVA) Saturday.
Head coach Joel Walton described the match as a “rollercoaster”.
“I think there were moments when we played really well and controlled [the Buckeyes] from the service line,” Walton said. “Our ineffectiveness offensively allowed some of the leads that we had to open up, and [the Buckeyes] creeped back into some games. I feel like offense is still something that we need to get better at.”
Ohio State's Jake Hanes was a driving force on offense for the Buckeyes, who would win set one, 25-14. Hanes would finish the match with 18 kills with a .667 hitting percentage at the end of the first set.
“The biggest thing was that we didn’t serve well in the first game,” Walton said. “They served us well, especially with Hanes and we didn’t pass really well.”
The second set was the turning point of the match. The Buckeyes would begin with an early 4-1 scoring lead. However, the Cardinals would tie the match, 16-16, off a kill from junior setter Jake Romano. Five kills from freshman outside hitter Kaleb Jenness would give the Cardinals the 25-20 victory to tie the set count at one.
The Cardinals would hold onto their momentum with 25-22 wins in both the third and fourth sets and eventually win the match, 3-1. Junior outside attacker Matt Szews would lead the team on offense, finishing with 13 kills and 32 total attacks on the night.
Szews said that while he was proud of his team’s win, he did not think it was completely dominant by any means.
“I think between game one and two, our attitude definitely changed,” Szews said. “We knew Ohio State was a good team going into the match. Going into game two, we said “alright, we know what they’re capable of, let’s change the way we play,” and we just started playing better.”
The victory saw the Cardinals return to a .500 winning percentage and was the team’s second straight after defeating No. 11 California State Northridge, 3-2, on Jan. 19. Szews said he believed having an entire week off and momentum from the team’s previous match helped tremendously in the victory.
“Tonight was an indicator of how much we’ve been improving,” Szews said. “Since the preseason, I think we’ve been getting better and it was nice to show what we were capable of.”
The match was the final of a three-match home stand for the Cardinals. The team will travel next weekend to face Harvard and Sacred Heart on Feb. 1 and 2.
“We’re making a long trip out to Boston, so we’ve got to train well this week and fix some things offensively,” Walton said. “We’re only going to get what we earn this year, so we need to go on the road with a lot of tenacity and determination. We’ll see what happens.”