How do you respond to dropping four straight matches against ranked opposition?
No. 11 Ball State Men’s Volleyball (6-4, 1-0 EIVA) had an answer Saturday in its 3-1 victory over Sacred Heart (1-5, 0-1 EIVA). The Cardinals are now on a four-match winning streak, sweeping their road trip against EIVA opponents.
“It was another good win,” head coach Joel Walton said. “I felt like for a good part of the match tonight we played well. We let down a little in game three, and that was disappointing to see, but we were able to get re-energized in game four.”
The Cardinals would win all three of their sets Saturday by four or more points after a five-set battle against Harvard on Friday. Set one began with a 12-12 tie between the Cardinals and Pioneers, although junior outside attacker Matt Szews would boost the Cardinals to a 25-17 win in the first.
A 5-2 run to end the second wasn’t enough for the Pioneers, as the Cardinals would win set two, 25-21.
However, the Pioneers’ momentum would transfer over into set three, giving Sacred Heart a 25-16 win in the third. The Pioneers were led by multiple kills from redshirt senior middle hitter Taylor Bloomquist and sophomore outside hitter Jakob Karlsson.
“In the third game, we didn’t pass or serve consistently and we committed a lot of attacking errors,” Walton said.
Karlsson and the Pioneers would give Sacred Heart a 3-1 lead early in the fourth. However, the tides quickly began to turn as the teams would be tied 5-5. The Cardinals would never look back and go onto win the set, 25-15, and the match, 3-1.
Head coach Joel Walton said tonight’s match was representative of a true team effort. Szews led the Cardinals in kills and hitting percentage, and freshman outside attacker Kaleb Jenness would lead with 11 digs.
“I think we got contributions from a lot of different players,” Walton said.
The Cardinals return to home Thursday to host McKendree at 7 p.m. The Bearcats conclude the Lindenwood Invitational Sunday against Alderson Borradus University and have split their previous two matches. Walton said improvements on offense remain crucial, even with his team’s recent success.
“We hit good numbers and we want to continue that,” Walton said. “I think that after this weekend, one of our focuses is going to be consistency on passing. Traveling is hard, I know I felt different sitting on the bench, and I could only imagine what the guys felt like, so hopefully we’ll be ready to protect our home court advantage.”
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