Cougars fall 3-1 to No. 8 Ball State, split the series 1-1


MUNCIE, Ind. — No. 11 BYU men’s volleyball battled against No. 8 Ball State Saturday afternoon, falling 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 19-25, 23-25) for BYU’s second loss to a ranked opponent this season. BYU split the series 1-1 against BSU in Worthen Arena this weekend, defeating the Cardinals in four sets on Thursday.

The Cougars (6-2) finished with more digs (40), assists (49) and kills (52), but the the Cardinals (5-3) were able to capture their first win over a ranked opponent this season, helped by 15 total blocks, while holding BYU to just four.

Set One

Sophomore outside hitter Miks Ramanis opened the first set with back-to-back kills for BYU. He would go on to lead all players with 20 kills. BYU held a substantial lead and had as high as a five-point advantage at 10-5 and 11-6. When BSU’s outside hitter Tinaishe Ndavazocheva had an attack error, head coach Donan Cruz took a timeout at 13-8. The Cougars reached their biggest lead of the set at 15-9 after a service ace by Kupono Brown.

Ball State lessened BYU’s lead in the latter half of the second set, going on a 3-0 run leading to a BYU timeout at 17-14, with the Cougars still in the lead. Ball State rallied to 17-16 after back-to-back kills and a service ace. The Cardinals inched their way to a tie at 22-22, after a kill by Ball Dyer and service ace from Connor Mason.

For the next three points, there were three service errors in a row,  with the score at 25-24 for BYU. The Cardinals would never lead at any point during set one, and the Cougars finished at 26-24 in extra points.

Ramanis led the Cougars with six kills on a .400 clip in the first set, with the Cougars hitting .310 as a whole. Both teams struggled on the service line as there were a combined 15 service errors in the first set.

Set Two

Ball State came with force in set two, going on a 3-0 run and leading at 5-3. The Cougars would trail until they reached a tie at 10-10 from a Cardinal attack error. BYU evened the score four more times but the Cardinals gained a 15-13 lead after an attack error by BYU's Luke Benson, leading to a media timeout.

Outside hitters Benson and Ramanis then both recorded a kill, taking the score to 15-15. BYU eventually seized its first lead of the set at 16-15 courtesy of a Gavin Julien and Heath Hughes block. What seemed like a pivotal moment for a BYU comeback, the Cougars went on a 3-0 run to take a lead at 20-18. Ramanis got his ninth kill of the match followed by two BSU attacking errors.

The Cardinals reached another tie at 20-20, forcing BYU to take a timeout. Browne had an attack error, for a 21-20 BSU lead. The Cougars had to burn another timeout when they were down 23-21. Anthony Cherfan recorded his first kill in a critical moment for BYU to take the score to 24-23, down by one. Ball State took the final timeout of the set in an attempt to ice BYU’s server Browne. BSU finalized set two 25-23 after a kill by Ndavazocheva.

The second set was tied as many as 13 times. Ball State also held BYU to a .154 hitting percentage while the Cardinals recorded 15 kills on a .281 clip.

Set Three

BSU unleashed more of its commanding presence in the third set, leading at 5-1. The Cougars struggled to get the ball over the net, with six errors and a negative hitting percentage, forcing a timeout from the Cougars with the visitors trailing 13-6. 

The Cardinals captured the biggest lead of the match at 19-11. Cougars Trent Moser and Julien then recorded back-to-back kills for a 19-13 score. BYU wouldn’t be able to build enough momentum to capture an edge, and the Cardinals won set three at 25-19 for a 2-1 lead. 

Set Four

BYU began with a 2-0 lead, featuring a Hughes service ace. Ramanis got his 17th kill of the day when the score went to 9-8 in favor of BYU. Ball State would get the next three points causing a BYU timeout. The Cougars would take another timeout after the Cardinals went on a 3-0 run, being down by five points at 16-11.

The Cougars looked to take the game to five sets, down by only three at 20-17, and Ball State took a time out. BSU's Ndavazocheva then cemented three more kills, finishing with a team-high of 19. The Cardinals won the set 25-23 after a service error by Julien.

Next week, BYU will host UC Santa Barbara who recently defeated No. 5 Pepperdine 3-2 on Friday. The first matchup of the series between the Cougars and the Gauchos will be on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. MST, streaming on the BYUtv app.