Sometimes, there’s no place like home.
Ball State (7-4, 4-3 MIVA) had been accustomed to its home court for a while, not leaving Worthen Arena since Jan. 23. During that home stretch, the Cardinals had gone 6-1, with the loss coming in five sets against Ohio State.
So, going on the road for the first time in more than a month to face No. 5 Lewis (10-2, 5-2 MIVA) was going to be a test. And a tough test it was, as the Flyers swept the Cardinals Friday night (17-25, 23-25, 21-25) and Saturday night (13-25, 19-25, 19-25) in Ball State’s first two sweeps all season.
“I wish I could tell you that I did [see something positive],” head coach Joel Walton said. “But, I really didn’t. We need to fix some of the areas we’re playing, and I think there’s probably some mental damage done as well. Our guys need to stay together, be resilient and rebound from what we’ve endured this weekend.”
The Cardinals couldn’t get much done offensively in the first set both nights. Lewis held Ball State to under 10 percent hitting percentage, compared to the Flyers hitting 40 percent and 56 percent, respectively, each night.
“I think we were really inconsistent both nights,” Walton said. “Lewis disrupted our offense, and we struggled finding any sort of consistency.”
The second and third sets were not much better either night. The Cardinals hit .289 and .225 in the first match and hit .188 and .241 the second night.
“We were even more inconsistent the second match,” Walton said. “We tried a few different lineups, and that didn’t seem to help.”
Junior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness led the Cardinals in kills both nights with 14 and eight, respectively. He also led in digs the first night with 12 and added three blocks.
Graduate student outside attacker Blake Reardon contributed nine kills, six digs and three blocks in Friday’s first match while senior outside attacker Ryan Dorgan finished with seven kills, five digs, and two blocks in Saturday’s second match.
The Cardinals will look to end their three-match losing streak on the road Thursday, March 11, in a rematch against Ohio State. The Buckeyes won the last meeting against the Cardinals Feb. 27.
“I want to see us working hard in the gym and making improvements,” Walton said, “and preparing to play better against Ohio State than we did the first time around. I think we’re capable of that.”