It took an epic comeback for Ball State to finally put an end to the Chicago curse.
Ball State rallied from a two-game deficit and overcame a six-point deficit in the fourth game to beat Loyola 23-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-23, 15-8 on Saturday in Chicago for its first road win against the Ramblers since 1999.
Outside attacker Blake Reardon led all players with a career-high 26 kills on a .558 attack percentage to help end Ball State’s 23-match losing streak at Loyola. Reardon had three kills in the decisive fifth game, including one kill that was part of a 7-1 run to open the game.
The Cardinals hit a match-best .550 attack percentage in the fifth game and ended the match out-hitting the Ramblers .356 to .271.
Ball State forced a fifth game after rallying from a 17-11 deficit to win the fourth game. Outside attacker Ben Chinnici had three kills during a 9-3 run to tie the game and then added another kill and a block late in the game to secure the win.
Chinnici finished with 14 kills — one of three Cardinals to have double-digit kills in the conference victory. Along with Chinnici and Reardon, outside attacker Kaleb Jenness had 23 kills on a .395 attack percentage and a match-high three aces against the Ramblers.
Loyola middle attacker Kyle Piekarski finished with 18 kills on a .586 attack percentage. Outside attacker Cole Schlothauer also led the Ramblers with 20 kills.
Despite the loss, Loyola out-blocked Ball State 9.5 to 6. Outside attacker Luke Denton led all players with six blocks, while Piekarski added five blocks.
Reardon led Ball State defensively with a match-high 15 digs and had two blocks. In addition, setter Quinn Isaacson had 10 digs.
Ball State blew leads late in both the first and second games versus Loyola.
The Cardinals led the opening game 18-16 before the Ramblers went on a 7-2 run en route to winning the game. It also overcame a 24-22 deficit in the second game and fought off multiple game-points to win in overtime.
With this comeback victory, Ball State coach Joel Walton secured his 400th career win.
“I’m really proud of the team for battling back at a place we haven’t won at since 1999,” Walton said. “I’m extremely grateful to my family, my assistant coaches, all the players I have coached and Ball State for the opportunity.”