“It was good to get it in three,” head coach Donan Cruz said after No. 12 Ball State Men’s Volleyball swept Central State in straight sets (25-16, 25-9, 25-19) Wednesday.
The Cardinals (10-5, 4-2) entered on a three-match win streak after defeating Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 18, Lindenwood on Feb. 24 and Quincy in straight sets on Feb. 25.
Ball State jumped out early on the Marauders (8-12, 1-1) with 14 total team kills in the first set and a .407 hitting percentage.
“We’ve been playing well,” fourth-year outside hitter Bryce Behrendt said. “We had a couple of early losses but since then we have been vibing and really rolling well…we’re in a good spot [before the West Coast road trip].
After their victory in the first set, Cruz took out the majority of the starting lineup, leaving only Behrendt and third-year libero Lukas Pytlak in the match.
“In those situations for opponents, when they see first-string guys come off, it can kind of give them some motivation,” Cruz said. “The guys who came in and played roles did a good job of making sure there were no hiccups in our volleyball.”
Behrendt wound up leading the team in kills (8) with third-year outside attacker Trevor Phillips (7) and second-year outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva (6) each being key contributors.
“I’m really excited to be able to come out here and contribute in a bigger role,” Behrendt said. “Coach [Cruz] is building trust and I’m starting to gel with some of the guys out there.”
The Marauders offense struggled to get going, as they only scored nine total points throughout the entire second set.
The Cardinals’ offense was on a roll in their second set win. They had their highest hitting percentage in the second set than any other set (.545).
Central State put up the most fight in the third set, as they held a three-point lead over Ball State at one point.
The Cardinals kept their cool and managed to comeback and complete the sweep of the Marauders.
A three-match break from Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) play awaits Ball State as they head to the West Coast starting Friday, March 3 against No. 4 Long Beach State.
“We wanted to go pretty heavy [in our conference break] with those opponents, so we’re getting healthier and I think we’ll be able to put our best foot forward and then we come back right into Ohio State, so it could not be a better time to have three non-conference opponents,” Cruz said.