Junior outside attacker Matt Szews prepares to spike the ball in a game against McKendree on Feb. 7 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals fell to the Bearcats, 3-0. Connor Smith, DN
No. 11 Ball State Men's Volleyball upset by McKendree
25 attack errors proved costly for No. 11 Ball State Men’s Volleyball (6-5, 1-1 MIVA) Thursday, as the Cardinals fell 3-0 to McKendree (4-4, 1-0 MIVA) in MIVA action.
Head coach Joel Walton said he was disappointed with his team’s performance, as the Cardinals' four-match win streak came to an end.
“McKendree really pushed us tonight,” Walton said. “It was a team effort, and a lot of our guys weren’t playing their best volleyball.”
Thursday’s match saw sophomore setter Quinn Isaacson draw into the starting lineup. Despite the loss, Walton said he was satisfied with Isaacson’s performance. Junior setter Jake Romano remains out with a thumb injury.
“We put a lot of pressure on Quinn to come in and set for Jake,” Walton said. “Quinn hasn’t really played a whole lot to this point, so we knew that was going to be rough, but I thought he did okay.”
Isaacson would finish with 43 assists on the night. The Cardinals would begin the first set up 15-11. However, the Bearcats would go on a 14-8 run to win the first, 25-23.
“We had a ton of attack errors,” Walton said. “[McKendree] had a really good rhythm and basically outhit us in every single match.”
Set two saw the Cardinals go to extra points for the second time this season. Junior outside attacker Matt Szews and senior middle attacker Parker Swartz would lead a late rally, but the Bearcats would take the second, 28-26.
The Bearcats would go onto win set three, 25-21, and sweep the match. Senior outside hitter Will Frank was a dynamic force on offense for the Bearcats, ending the night with 14 kills and a .320 hitting percentage.
The Cardinals continue to remain optimistic with Romano’s injury, but Walton said he was also concerned with Isaacson’s health.
“[Isaacson] actually did something to his hip flexor or one of his legs, so he wasn’t 100 percent tonight on the court,” Walton said. “We really needed him to fire on all cylinders, but he was doing the best he could.”
Isaacson said quick starts remain pivotal for the Cardinals. The team holds a 4-7 record in set one finishes.
“[McKendree] came out firing, and we knew they were going to start fast,” Isaacson said. “I think we did a good job of holding our own, but we had a few mental errors throughout the game. We couldn’t finish.”
The Cardinals wrap up their two-match home stand against No. 13 George Mason on Sunday. The Patriots face No. 15 Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday before coming to Muncie.
“Every game is a big game,” Isaacson said. “We just need to work on basic serving and passing. If we work on our serve receive then think we’ll be able to beat a lot of teams.”