As the fans rise in Worthen Arena, cheers and applause ring throughout the seats. The first stop in a new Ball State Men’s Volleyball campaign continues with its first home match of the season.
“The crowd was electric tonight for us,” head coach Donan Cruz said. “We have to learn how to play through really tough environments so it is nice for us to get welcomed back with the amount of fans we had in attendance.”
The Cardinals (1-2, 0-0) started in their first match since last weekend’s series of defeats against No. 1 Hawaii by taking control and executing. The opposing Harvard Crimson were blown on attack or service errors, something they had almost twice as often as Ball State had.
In terms of offense, the Crimson actually had the same the amount of kills as the Cardinals, but the hitting percentages show Harvard at a .094 hitting percentage compared to Ball State’s .409 hitting percentage.
Early on in the first set, fifth-year middle blocker Felix Egharevba, who returned from last year’s team that reached the national semifinals, went down with an undisclosed injury and did not return to the match.
In his place, second-year middle blocker Vanis Buckholz stepped up with two kills on a .1000 hitting percentage and three block assists.
“You always have to be ready,” Buckholz said. “You can be called on at any given moment so you have to stay warmed up.”
The production on offense kept on rolling for the Cardinals in the final two sets with an average .590 hitting percentage and 25 kills.
10 of those kills are attributed to second-year outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva in his Ball State debut inside Worthen Arena.
“He [Ndavazocheva] is still really young and new to the team so for him to have the style of athleticism that he does is pretty special,” Cruz said. “The more the season goes on, the more people are going to learn about who he is and I think fans are going to continue to enjoy watching him play.”
The Cardinals look to build on this win in Saturday’s home matchup against Tusculum University at 7 p.m.
“[I would like to see] consistency from what we saw tonight,” Cruz said. ”Everything we saw tonight was a big improvement, statistically, from last weekend in Hawaii.”