On the court at Worthen Arena for the first time since March, Ball State Men’s Volleyball (1-0, 0-0 MIVA) returned to action quickly. The Cardinals swept Maryville University (0-2, 0-0 GLVC) in their 2022 season opener by scores of 25-12, 25-18 and 25-13, respectively.
The match also marked head coach Donan Cruz’s first match and first win for the program.
“I feel proud for the guys because we've been working really hard in the fall training and getting ourselves prepared for today,” Cruz said. “For us, it's just about execution, and, kind of glancing at the stat right now, I felt like we rotated in a lot more guys maybe than we would typically do on other nights. I felt like it was really nice for us to get out and get the W in front of the home crowd.”
Junior outside attacker Bryce Behrendt led Ball State in kills with 17 while graduate student setter Quinn Issacson contributed a team-high 24 assists and junior setter David Flores added seven digs to help cruise the Cardinals to victory.
“Everyone played great,” senior outside attacker Kaleb Jenness said. “It's just great to get to win, start the season strong and use that to push through the rest of our long season.”
After winning the first set, Cruz rotated Ball State’s lineup around, giving freshman middle blocker Vanis Buckholz, freshman opposite/setter Aaron Hernandez and freshman libero Xander Pink debuts on the court.
“We’ve got a team that is very deep,” Cruz said. “We could [have] three, four guys in a certain position and I think it's just about accountability and training. I think our guys understand that and one of the biggest things is making sure they get opportunities to understand that the reality of them getting into matches as young players can happen at any point.”
Finishing last season ranked 8th nationally in rating percentage index (RPI) before going unranked in preseason polls, Isaacson said that Ball State will look to build on its 2021 top 10 rank this season.
“We’re focused,” Isaacson said. “We know there are some teams ahead of us that aren't as good as us. We know that for sure. But we got to prove it. We haven't done anything last couple of years to really set that tone. Obviously, we finished last year at a good ranking but then lost in the semi-finals [of the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament]. We’ve got to find a way to really push through so we can prove that to everyone in the room.”
The Cardinals will remain at Worthen Arena for their next matching, facing off against Tusculum University on Jan. 15 at 3 p.m.
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