No. 8/7 Ball State lived up to the moment.
With hundreds of former Ball State players in the stands and playing on the same court where early in the day a ceremony was held to celebrate the late coach Don Shondell, Ball State emphatically defeated its oldest rival.
Ball State finished with 15 blocks as it defeated Ohio State 26-24, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22 on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana to remain tied for first place in the MIVA.
The Cardinals and the Shondell family prior to the rivalry match held a five-hour celebration of life at Worthen Arena to honor the hall of fame coach who passed away in November. Shondell founded the Ball State men’s volleyball program in 1960 and retired in 1998 as the second winningest coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history.
Middle attacker Felix Egharevba in the victory led all players with nine blocks, including back-to-back solo blocks late in the fourth game.
Egharevba was one of four Cardinals with at least four blocks. Opposite Angelos Mandilars had seven blocks, while outside attacker Nick Martinski and middle attacker Vanis Buckholz each had four blocks.
Ohio State was limited to one block as All-MIVA setter Quinn Isaacson guided the Cardinals offense out-hit the Buckeyes .388 to .280.
Mandilaris led Ball State (15-2, 7-1 MIVA) with 14 kills on a .370 attack percentage. Martinski also had 10 kills on a .600 attack percentage, and outside attacker Kaleb Jenness had 11 digs.
Despite the loss, Ohio State had four players with double-digit kills highlighted with opposite Jacob Pasteur’s team-high 13 kills.
The Cardinals finished with seven aces – two more aces than the Buckeyes (9-11, 4-5 MIVA) . This serving performance came after Ohio State held Ball State to a season-low zero aces in a five-game overtime loss on Wednesday.
Issacson, who had two aces in the win, opened the fourth game from the service line and helped the Cardinals start on a 4-0 run. Ohio State rallied to tie the game at 18-18, but Jenness and Mandilaris each had two kills late in the game to help Ball State secure its sixth consecutive win.
Ohio State in the third game overcame a three-point deficit and went on a 6-1 run to take a 17-15 lead. The Buckeyes also trailed 22-21 but scored four of the next five points with kills from Pasteur, Martin Lallemand and Ethan Tally to extend the match.
Ball State had four aces and led by as many as 10 points in its second-game victory to take a two-game lead. In addition, the team did not commit an attack error in the game until it was at a game-point.
Isaacson guided Ball State to a .474 attack percentage in the opening game.
Ball State, though, trailed 19-15 before tying the game with a 4-0 run that featured an ace and kill from Jenness on back-to-back plays. The Cardinals also fought off a match-point to force overtime and then won the game with Issacson serving and the Buckeyes committing back-to-back attack errors
Ball State with this victory completed a regular season sweep against Ohio State for the first time since 2014. The Cardinals are now on a four-match winning streak against the Buckeyes, including beating Ohio State in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals last season.