After a 3-2 comeback victory over McKendree on Thursday and seven days remaining until the MIVA quarterfinals, Ball State Men’s Volleyball (15-14, 6-8 MIVA) concluded its regular season Saturday night against Ohio State (10-18, 5-9 MIVA). However, the Cardinals would let go of a 2-1 lead through three sets as the Buckeyes would prevail in five, 3-2.
Head coach Joel Walton said the Buckeyes’ offense was faster and sharper than the Cardinals. The Buckeyes were led in kills by sophomore opposite Jake Hanes with 19 and in hitting percentage by junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss with .435. Defensively, Ohio State also led in digs, 45-31.
“We had a lead in game four, and we let it get away,” Walton said. “We kind of broke and got stuck in the rotation. We kept making errors and [Ohio State] also made some good defensive plays.”
Saturday’s match was also the final regular season match for the team’s four seniors: middle attacker Parker Swartz, middle attacker Lemuel Turner, outside hitter David Siebum and libero Adam Wessel. Walton said he is proud of their impacts on the team but is hoping for even more production in next week’s quarterfinals match against McKendree.
“I think all of our seniors have done a good job this year,” Walton said. “We’ve got four seniors who are playing some pretty significant roles for our team.”
The Cardinals began the match by taking set one, 25-19. The team dominated in both offense and defense, with a .500 to .238 lead in hitting percentage and a 3.5 to 0.0 lead in blocks. However, the Buckeyes would quickly rebound in the second. Ohio State tied the match and took set two, 25-17, off a kill from Hanes.
12 kills and a match-winning service ace off Swartz propelled the Cardinals in set three, 25-15.
Ball State began set four up 9-5, but the Buckeyes would take a 13-12 lead midway through the set to force a Cardinals timeout. A 7-4 run by the Cardinals to end the set featuring freshman outside attacker Brandon Shepherd record his first career kill was ultimately not enough. The Buckeyes took set four, 25-23, to tie the match at two.
“There was one call that happened in game four, and it just seems like every time we come to Ohio State there’s something that happens with the officiating,” Walton said. “There was a ball that landed on the far side that was called a touch, but the serve went out-of-bounds. That was right in the middle of the game, which came down to a two-point gap.”
For the third time in four matches, the Cardinals would head to five sets. However, the team was not able to overcome the duo of Hanes and junior outside hitter Reese Devilbiss. Ohio State took the set, 15-9, to win the match 3-2.
“It’s frustrating every year we come to [Ohio State],” Walton said. “It’s like we’re playing against the [Buckeyes] and whether or not it’s their coaches getting in the ear of the officials, I’m not exactly sure where the fault lies but it doesn’t feel fair going through those moments.”
The Cardinals will be back in action next Saturday at McKendree in the MIVA quarterfinals.