Heading into a matchup against Loyola Chicago (17-7, 11-2 MIVA), Ball State Men’s Volleyball (19-3, 11-2 MIVA) had only dropped two matches in the 2022 season, one of which to the Ramblers.
After taking a reverse sweep loss from Loyola at home Feb. 19, the Cardinals lost outright in three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-19 and 28-26 respectively April 7.
“We really struggled to get into a rhythm early and, you know, hats off to them,” head coach Donan Cruz said. “They played a really good match and we kind of struggled to pass the ball. I think that was kind of where a lot of our volleyball miscues Through that, they gained a lot of momentum early, and [I] just kind of felt like we were playing catch up.”
Ball State was unable to score an ace on the night as Loyola scored eight and had two fewer serving errors with 14.
Senior outside hitter Kaleb Jenness led the Cardinals attack with 15 kills while graduate student setter Quinn Isaacson had a team-high 29 assists. In defense, graduate student opposite hitter Angelos Mandilaris backstopped with six digs and graduate student middle blocker Will Hippe had a team-leading three blocks.
The Cardinals had the opportunity to secure an outright Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) regular-season championship if they were to win. With the loss, Ball State's title hopes will depend on their final regular-season match April 9.
If Ball State defeats Purdue Fort Wayne (15-10, 6-7 MIVA) and the Ramblers defeat Ohio State (12-13, 6-7 MIVA), the title will be shared between the two – but if either program is to lose while the other wins, only one team will be crowned regular-season champions.
“I don't think pressure really for us is something that we're concerned about,” Cruz said. “We are concerned about playing well and being able to compete against Purdue Fort Wayne. Despite whatever a win or a loss means, we just understand that [it's] one match at a time, and from there then it's about preparing for the quarterfinals of the MIVA [tournament]."
Cruz said that at the moment Ball State needs to focus on working through the loss before hitting the ground fresh tomorrow.
“If there's one thing I know about the group is we understand how to respond,” Cruz said. “Being able to have the opportunity to turn around and have a chance to make adjustments and learn from this loss, I think is something this team will do and as a coaching staff we’ll be a little bit better ourselves too.”
The Cardinals will take on Purdue Fort Wayne in their final matchup of the regular season April 9 at 7 p.m.