In its last five matches against ranked opponents, Ball State Men’s Volleyball (7-1, 1-0 MIVA) is 4-1. The fourth win came in its sweep against Lewis University (6-3, 0-1 MIVA) in its Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) opener Feb. 10.
“I am so excited for them,” head coach Donan Cruz said. “It was really nice to hear from them how much that win here on the road meant to them and obviously we know there's still a lot more ahead of us, but [we’re] trying to embrace and enjoy the victories along the way. I thought that guys were pretty pumped about the win so [I’m] stoked for them.”
It took extra points for Ball State to win the first set 31-29, but the Cardinals took the second and third sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-20 respectively.
After missing the Feb. 5 match against BYU, graduate student opposite Angelos Mandilaris returned to the Cardinal lineup and recorded a team-high 18 kills.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to score points,” Cruz said. “You’ve got to get to 25 or more to win and Angelos alleviates a lot of the pressure that other guys feel when he's not on the court.”
Freshman middle blocker Vanis Buckholz was out with a left knee injury, as Cruz said his availability is still up in the air for the Cardinals next match Feb. 12 against McKendree (4-3, 1-0 MIVA).
On the defensive side of the net, senior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness and senior middle blocker Felix Egharevba both tallied five blocks while graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson led Ball State's buildup play with 40 assists.
The Cardinals moved to 10th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) coaches poll after sweeping defending national champions Hawai'i Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, and remained in the same position after splitting matches against BYU Feb. 4-5. Cruz said the Cardinals don't pay too much mind to the rankings and instead focus on themselves.
“It's not a center point or a focus of our team conversations,” Cruz said. “I think when guys are talking about it, it's simply in the fashion of us being volleyball fans but I don't think it’s, for us, a piece of conversation that we put much value to. We trust what readers are doing and we just kind of stay in our lane.”
Ball State continues its road trip for its next match against Mckendree Feb. 12. First set is 8 p.m.