Ball State men’s volleyball falls to Ohio State, ends 8-game win streak

Ball State men's volleyball gathers to hear their coaches talk after their loss to Ohio State March 21 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 3-0 to the Buckeyes. Mya Cataline, DN
Ball State men's volleyball gathers to hear their coaches talk after their loss to Ohio State March 21 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 3-0 to the Buckeyes. Mya Cataline, DN

The last time Ohio State men’s volleyball traveled to Muncie, the Buckeyes left with a 3-1 win and the 2023 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Tournament title. The longtime MIVA rival of the Cardinals found a similar result in their 2024 trip to Worthen Arena as No. 10 Ohio State (16-7, 9-4 MIVA) defeated No. 12 Ball State Thursday night in three sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-18) to extend its spurt of road success against the red and white.

“Ohio State probably played one of the best matches they did in at least the last five games,” Ball State head coach Donan Cruz. “The defensive effort on their end was really, really good, and we struggled to respond.” 

Ball State’s loss brings an end to its eight-match winning streak, which was tied for the second-longest spurt of victories across Cruz’s three-year tenure leading the program. Though the Cardinals’ setback ended a string of success, Cruz acknowledged that disappointing losses are inherent to the sport.

“I think we're gonna have to take those kinds of hits along the way, and we expect that that's going to be part of it,” Cruz said.

Cruz emphasized this mentality to the Cardinals after the match when they convened in an emotional huddle at center court. The mentor of the red and white told his team “as much as you want to sit here and be discouraged, we have a quick turnaround, and we have zero time to hang our heads.”

The streak-breaking affair came exactly one week after Ball State’s seventh win in the eight-victory sequence: the Cardinals’ statement road win at Ohio State. The first match in the Ball State-Ohio State season series was tightly contested and featured a drastically different box score than the one produced by Thursday night’s outing.

The most glaring disparity between the first and second matches of the season series came on the offensive end. In the opening contest of the matchup, the Cardinals and Buckeyes posted nearly identical hitting percentages as Ball State recorded a .241 mark, and Ohio State hit at a .231 clip.

Match two of the series saw more uneven lines, which more heavily favored the Buckeyes. Ohio State ripped 43 kills at a .418 clip, while Ball State recorded a season-low 29 terminations at a .146 hitting percentage.

Ball State’s errant passing — which Cruz especially emphasized — and inability to manufacture scoring runs late in sets also plagued the Cardinals. From the 15-point mark onward, Ohio State outscored the red and white by a combined 30-19 margin across the three frames.

Ball State men's volleyball head coach Donan Cruz watches as the play against Ohio State March 21 at Worthen Arena. The Cardinals lost 3-0 against the Buckeyes. Mya Cataline, DN

“It was a really tough night passing for us,” Cruz said. “That makes the game move a little bit more fluid for us, and we just didn't have that component.” 

As Ohio State began to command the momentum midway through the match, Cruz opted to cycle through his lengthy bench of subs — yielding a balanced stat sheet for the Cardinals -- with few outlying performers.

Junior outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva posted a team-best kills mark (10), and freshman setter Lucas Machado — who was replaced by fellow rookie Peter Zurawski in set two — led in assists (13).

Ball State’s defense was rather quiet, given Ohio State’s lofty hitting figures. Senior opposite hitter Dyer Ball paced the squad with six digs, and senior middle blocker Rodney Wallace and Machado — with one block each — led a blocking attack that rejected just four attacks.

Even with the Cardinals’ second conference loss, they still hold sole possession of the spot in the MIVA standings. The red and white now lead second-place Loyola Chicago by one match, and Ohio State — who still remains in third place — by two matches.

Ball State’s clash with Ohio State was not its only rivalry matchup of the weekend, as the Cardinals (16-8, 9-2 MIVA) will travel Saturday to take on Purdue Fort Wayne (11-9, 5-6 MIVA). The red and white downed the Mastodons in mid-February and are eyeing a fourth-straight season sweep of the Battle of I-69 series.

“Tomorrow's practice is going to be pretty critical for us with how we prepare, but I think it's more just on the mental side with being able to turn it around,” Cruz said. “Purdue Fort Wayne is going to be ready to play.”

The Cardinals could perhaps be short-handed in their meeting with Purdue Fort Wayne as sophomore outside hitter Patrick Rogers exited Thursday’s match with an apparent lower body injury. Ball State’s kills leader landed awkwardly at the net in the third set, and was later escorted off the court by the athletic training staff. Cruz was unable to provide a status on his return immediately following the match.

The Daily News requested to speak with Ndavazocheva, but that request was denied. 

Contact Adam Altobella with comments on X @AltobellaAdam or via email at


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