After falling 3-0 to Lewis on Friday, No. 12 Ball State Men’s Volleyball (7-7, 1-3 MIVA) returned to the court Saturday with greater confidence against No. 7 Loyola-Chicago (11-3, 4-0 MIVA).
However, a forceful offense from the Ramblers proved to be too much, as the Cardinals dropped their third straight conference match, 3-1.
“[Loyola] battled, and one of the things we talked about before the match was just making sure we competed all the way through,” head coach Joel Walton said. “There have been times where teams have pushed against us, and I thought our guys did a better job tonight. We competed all the way through.”
Senior outside hitter Colin Mahan played a major role in the Ramblers’ victory, notching 20 kills. The Ramblers are now 22-3 all-time at home against the Cardinals.
Walton said passing was an issue in the loss, and he was disappointed with freshman outside attacker Kaleb Jenness’ performance. Jenness, who leads the Cardinals in kills with 160, had only eight in Saturday’s match and a .000 hitting percentage.
“We struggled a bit in games two, three and four,” Walton said. “It was just little connection things with Isaacson and some of our other guys. Jenness is struggling, and he’s making just a few too many errors. We got to get him back on track.”
Isaacson, who is continuing to fill the void for Romano, had 47 assists on the night. The Cardinals would take set one in extra points, 27-25.
The second set once again saw both teams go to extra points. The Cardinals held a narrow 19-18 lead late in the second, but Mahan’s dominance would ultimately lead the Ramblers to tie the match and take the set, 29-27.
The Ramblers would take set three, 25-20. Set four saw the Cardinals hold multiple one-point leads, but it wasn’t enough as Loyola would take set four, 25-23, to win the match.
“I think Loyola played a great game all the way through,” senior outside hitter David Siebum said. “[Loyola] went on four, five and six point runs and we just couldn’t come back.”
Siebum had 15 kills in the match, second on the team behind junior outside attacker Matt Szews.
Saturday’s match was the second of five straight conference matches for the Cardinals. Walton said the team needs to be ready for Thursday’s match at Purdue Fort Wayne.
“Every conference match is critical,” Walton said. “We’ve given up three already. We’ve got to be ready for Thursday night.”