It’s been a successful Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) road trip so far for senior outside attacker Blake Reardon. Leading Ball State Men’s Volleyball (10-6, 3-3 MIVA) with 15 kills, the Cardinals swept Quincy (4-13, 1-5 MIVA) Saturday, bouncing back from a four-set loss to Lindenwood Friday.
Reardon has now notched double-digit kills for Ball State in his last four matches, including a career-high 26 Feb. 22 at Loyola-Chicago. Reardon also tallied a .407 hitting percentage while contributing defensively with seven digs.
Prior to the start of Ball State’s current five-match road trip, Reardon had only found himself with double digits in kills twice this season in wins over California State Northridge and Daemen.
“Blake did a good job tonight,” Walton said. “We wanted to give [Matt] Szews some time, so we moved Szews back to the right side and pushed Blake to the left. Blake, Kaleb [Jenness] and Matt all put up decent kill numbers — Blake was by far the most efficient.”
Jenness and Szews finished with 11 and 10 kills Saturday, respectively. Defensively, while the Cardinals faced an 8.0-3.5 deficit in blocks, Ball State led Quincy 44-32 in digs.
Although the Hawks’ 1-5 record in conference play is last among all eight MIVA teams, Walton said it wasn’t easy to underestimate the Hawks simply based on their record heading into Saturday’s match.
“You can look at their record and say, ‘They’re not a very good team,’ but they’ve got some good pieces,” Walton said. “They’re a good team, and we’re happy to get in and get out in three games and move forward.”
With the win, Ball State is now 52-5 all time against the Hawks. In set one, a .433 hitting percentage in set one paved success for the Cardinals. Ball State took set one 25-20 off an attack error by the Hawks.
In set two, both sides saw back-and-forth action early before an 8-3 run by the Cardinals gave them a 17-11 lead. Though Ball State brought its hitting percentage down to .152 in the second, the leadership of Szews and Reardon, in addition to a strong defensive effort, was enough for Ball State to take set two 25-18.
As the Cardinals sustained their momentum, set three began with a similar narrative to the second. With a 16-12 lead, a 4-0 run with kills from Reardon and Jenness forced a Quincy timeout. However, that timeout proved to have an impact on the Hawks. Both sides were tied at 17 before a Ball State attack error gave the Hawks a one-point lead.
While both sides traded points for the next four rallies, the Cardinals ended the match on a 6-0 run, taking the set 25-20 for the sweep. Reardon served as a focal point for Ball State’s success down the stretch, tallying six of his 15 kills in the third.
Currently at an even record through their last four matches, the Cardinals will conclude their five-match road trip Wednesday at Ohio State. Last season, Ball State split both of its matches with the Buckeyes. Walton said he has high expectations for his team after Saturday’s sweep.
“[Ohio State] put up a great match against Quincy on [Friday],” Walton said. “They’re capable of playing really well, and we’ve got to make sure that we have a good week of training and we’re ready to go when we see the Buckeyes.”