Ball State men's volleyball might have déjà vu after Saturday's loss at No. 2 Ohio State.
On February 2, Buckeyes junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen and senior opposite Miles Johnson combined for 32 of Ohio State's 47 kills in their 3-0 win against Ball State.
In a different month and a different venue, the story wasn't much different. Johnson and Szerszen combined for 24 of Ohio State's 42 kills en route to their 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-19) victory.
"My frustration with Johnson is that we wanted to set up our block in a certain way to force him to hit shots in a certain location," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said. "We allowed him to hit the shots that he likes and our blocks just didn't start out in the right place."
The No. 11 Cardinals (15-8, 6-6 MIVA) started off strong in each of the first three sets but allowed two of Ohio State's strongest servers, Szerszen and junior outside hitter Maxine Fervor, to go on long runs.
Ball State stat leaders:
Kills: Anthony Lebryk — 6
Assists: Connor Gross — 18
Digs: Connor Gross — 4
Service Aces: Brendan Surane — 2
"We didn't want their servers to get behind the line for three consecutive serves but there were multiple times tonight where that happened," Walton said. "It wasn't just the balls that we got aced on, we didn't do a good job passing the balls that gave us an opportunity to get a swing."
The Cardinals struggled offensively, finishing the match with an attack percentage of .159 — their second lowest of the season. Tonight's match was also the first time this season where the Cardinals were held without a team block.
"We were able to block some balls back onto their side of the court, but then they were able to transition their way into another kill," Walton said. "They performed better in that part of the game than we did."
Ball State's two starting outside attackers, freshman Matt Szews and senior Edgardo Cartagena, both finished with negative attack percentages.
The Cardinals received solid play from junior middle attacker Anthony Lebryk, who finished the match with six kills, and senior outside attacker Mike "Skip" Scannell, who came into the match late in the third set and provided a spark with a kill, three digs and a service ace.
"The house could be burning down around [Scannell] and he can still a find a way to come through whereas most people would let the panic overtake them," Walton said. "He did give us a breath of life but it just wasn't enough — we didn't have enough guys join in that with him"
Ball State will return home next week to face Quincy and Lindenwood on Friday and Saturday. Both matches will start at 7:30 p.m.