Tied 13-13 in the fifth set, freshman outside attacker Matt Szews went back to serve for a chance to give No. 11 Ball State men's volleyball the lead, like he had done so many times before.
"I know that Matt is going to think long and hard about that ball late in the match," Ball State's head coach Joel Walton said. "He did an awful lot tonight and as a freshman he's played beyond his age."
Szews' nine kills, six blocks and 11 digs weren't enough as Ball State lost to No. 2 Ohio State 3-2 (14-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 13-15) in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association semifinals.
"We fought, we fought really hard," Walton said. "We got off to a great start in set five and our offense just couldn't sustain that level. It's really heartbreaking that we couldn't finish that match off."
Kills: Blake Readon - 14
Assists: Connor Gross - 41
Service Aces: Parker Swartz & Matt Szews - 2
Digs: Adam Wessell - 16
Total Blocks: Matt Walsh & Matt Szews - 6
Ball State used its serves to come back and even the match at two sets a piece, including a 4-0 serving run by junior middle attacker Matt Walsh late in the fourth set.
"That was enormous," senior setter Connor Gross said. "We know we had to put pressure on their offense because they can be hard to stop so that pressure helped to make them uncomfortable."
Walsh also went on a run of kills in the fourth set, when he recorded five of his 12 kills.
"His play was just stellar," Walton said. "Offensively when we're able to pass well, he's a weapon that teams really struggle against."
After losing the first set and falling behind in the second, Ball State subbed in senior outside attacker Mike "Skip" Scannell, who Walton says served as Ohio State's "kryptonite."
Scannell came into the match and had seven kills on an attack percentage of .245.
"He's a very athletic kid and he can be very physical," Walton said. "In a match like this, sometimes that can help to carry us over the top."
Even in the loss, Ball State finished the season with momentum — something Gross thinks will stick with this team after he's gone next season.
"We had a lot of ups-and-downs, but we showed a lot of promise and the sky's the limit for this young group," Gross said. "I hope they can do what we couldn't do."