No. 8/7 Ball State survived against its oldest conference rival – barely.
Ball State in the fifth game rallied from a four-point deficit and then overcame two match-points to beat Ohio State 26-24, 18-25, 25-23, 19-25, 17-15 on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the decisive game before the Cardinals went on a 5-1 run to tie the game. In addition, Ball State facing a match-point had a kill from opposite Angelos Mandilaris to force overtime and survived another match-point in overtime because of an Ohio State attack error.
That attack error at match-point was the first three consecutive attack errors for Ohio State (9-10, 3-4 MIVA) to close out the loss.
Ball State (14-2, 5-1 MIVA) had two players with more than 20 kills en route to its fifth consecutive win.
Mandilaris led all players with 23 kills highlighted with a game-high six kills in the third-game win. Outside attacker Kaleb Jenness also had 22 kills on a .396 attack percentage, including two kills as part of the Cardinals’ run late in the fifth game that tied the score.
This was the fifth match of the season that Jenness had at least20 kills. Jenness also entered the match second in the nation averaging 4.92 kills per game.
Along with Mandilaris and Jenness, freshman middle attacker Vanis Buckholz added 11 kills on a team-best .556 attack percentage.
Ohio State despite the loss out-hit Ball State .358 to .327 and had more than a .500 attack percentage in its second and fourth game wins.
Three Buckeyes ended with double-digit kills with opposite Jacob Pasteur having a match-high 23 kills on a .327 attack percentage. Outside attacker Samuel Clark contributed 18 kills, while middle attacker Ethan Talley had 12 kills and zero errors on a match-best .923 attack percentage.
Clark also led all players defensively with 16 digs.
The Buckeyes held the Cardinals to a season-low zero aces. Ball State opened the match 11th in the nation and second in the MIVA with a 1.55 aces per game average.
Ball State with this victory moves into a tie for first place in the MIVA with No. 11 Loyola.
The Cardinals and Buckeyes will conclude their home-and-home series on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana. If Ball State wins this home match it will complete its first regular season series sweep of Ohio State since 2014.