The No. 6 Ball State Men’s Volleyball team has started the season with two losses to defending national champions No. 1 Hawaii.
After dropping their season opener 3-1 the previous night, the Cardinals opened the rematch strong, taking set one 25-23 with a .346 hitting percentage off 26 swings. Ball State jumped out to an earlier lead over the Rainbow Warriors in set one and held on to close it out.
Set two was much closer, with both sides of the net going almost point-for-point. The Cardinals hit .583 but ultimately fell short of the set victory after back-to-back attack errors gave Hawaii the set 25-23.
Ball State looked to fall out of rhythm in set three after two highly competitive sets. The Rainbow Warriors led by as many as seven points en route to a 25-18 set three win. After a dominant set three win, Hawaii used its momentum to repeat set three in set four, winning 25-18 and taking the match 3-1.
Despite back-to-back losses, Ball State looked smoother in the second match with the offense flowing and the system beginning to work seamlessly. After losing four starting rotation players heading into the season, there is an understandable learning curve to the Cardinals’ chemistry, one that looks to have taken progressive steps forward during the road trip.
Graduate student outside attacker Kaleb Jenness led Ball State with 15 kills with sophomore outside hitter Ndavazocheva Tinaishe close behind with 11. At the net, sophomore middle blocker Vanis Buckholz combined with Jenness for eight blocks while senior setter David Flores led the Cardinals in assists with 35.
Ball State will be home for its next eight matches until a road trip to Loyola Chicago Feb. 16. The Cardinals face Harvard in their next match Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in Worthen Arena.