Just one night earlier, the Ball State men’s volleyball team entered a decisive fifth set against a ranked opponent from California.
The Cardinals faced the same situation on Saturday night at Worthen Arena against No. 10 Cal State Northridge, but relied on Blake Reardon off the bench to get the job done this time and snap a four-match losing streak by defeating the Matadors, 3-2.
The match was televised by Ball State Sports Link on ESPN3. To watch the replay, click the link below.
Reardon entered the match for a struggling Matt Szews and compiled 15 kills on a .444 attack percentage. He also tallied one service ace, four digs and three block assists.
“Blake has one of the best arms on our team,” said head coach Joel Walton. “We love getting him out on the court because it gives us an opportunity to rest Szews at times and just adds another weapon to our offense. I was really proud of him tonight.”
The Cardinals improved to 3-4 for the year with the win while Cal State Northridge dropped to 5-2.
Ball State trailed in kills, 56-59, for the match but won in the points column 78-71.5. Six service aces beat CSUN’s four and the Cardinals nearly doubled up the Matadors in blocking with 16 to their 8.5.
Similar to the night before, Ball State struggled to open the match as CSUN claimed a 4-0 lead to start the set. The Cardinals gradually recovered and fought to pull within one late with the scoreboard reading 22-21. That would be as close as it got the remainder of the game as the Matadors finished it off, 25-21.
BSU quickly settled down in game two as it snagged an early lead and never let go. Northridge attempted to make a late comeback in the set but an ace from Jake Romano and kill by Reardon on back-to-back plays sealed the 25-20 set victory and evened the match at one apiece.
With the scored tied 2-2 early in set three, Ball State ran off three points in a row to take control. That lead held until the Matadors seized some momentum late in the game and evened the score at 23 all. Coach Walton called timeout and drew up the final two points as Reardon put down the first kill and Kaleb Jenness clinched the set with the second.
The Cardinals entered game four with an opportunity to close out the match but couldn’t quite finish it off. The set remained tight early with the score 16 apiece, but the Matadors made a run and pushed the match to a fifth set with a 25-21 set victory.
Like set four, the final set of the match was back and forth early on. Ball State held an 8-7 lead when the teams switched sides and bumped the lead to 9-7 when Jenness killed an over pass. A few plays later CSUN appeared to have tied the game, but the Cardinals won a critical challenged call to maintain their lead. From there, Ball State created enough separation to stay comfortable, and secured the match with a 15-12 set win.
Jenness led the Cardinals in kills with 16 and David Siebum pitched in 13. Jake Romano totaled 43 assists from his setter position while Lemuel Turner led the way in blocking with 10 block assists and one solo block.
“I’m glad our guys fought through tonight to get the victory,” Walton said. “I thought we improved offensively tonight. We finished with our best hitting percentage of the night in game five and that was critical.”
BSU now has a week to prepare for conference play. The Cardinals will host Ohio State in the MIVA opener Saturday night with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. The match, also produced by Sports Link, will be available on ESPN3.