BYU gets Top-10 road win, 3-1 over Ball State
MUNCIE, Ind. — No. 11 BYU men’s volleyball defeated No. 8 Ball State 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 27-25) in Worthen Arena Thursday evening, ending a 12-match home winning streak for the Cardinals.
BYU’s (6-1) trio of outside hitters Miks Ramanis, Luke Benson and Kupono Browne combined for 44 kills in the upset victory. BYU's serving was a key in the match, with a season-high nine service aces compared to Ball State’s two. BYU middle blocker Gavin Julien took home three of BYU's nine aces. The Cardinals suffered 16 service errors, their second-largest number in a match this season. BYU's senior setter Heath Hughes also had a career-night with 49 assists.
"Hats off to this team for battling from start to finish," said BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead. "They showed a ton of grit and fought all night long. Our servers got the job done tonight and allowed us to get other things in place."
The Cougars fell behind in the early stages of set one, with four hitting errors, calling a timeout down 5-1. The Cardinals went on a 5-0 run until the score reached 7-1. Julien lessened the gap with a kill, taking the score to 8-3. BYU came close at 10-9 and would tie the Cardinals for the first time at 13-13. The set then went back-and-forth until BYU grabbed its first lead of the set at 17-16, courtesy of a back-to-back ace and kill from Trent Moser and Ramanis, respectively.
A service ace by Jon Stanley took the score to 19-18, his 20th career ace. BYU took its largest lead of the set at 20-18, after a kill by Ramanis, but would lose the next three points. Ball State reached the set point at 25-24, and won with a kill by Tinaishe Ndavazocheva. He would go on to have 19 kills in the match.
The Cardinals hit .405, holding BYU to a .263 clip. Julien and Ramanis led BYU’s offense in the first set with five kills apiece.
The score in the second set alternated more frequently than the first, going back-and-forth until the Cardinals took a lead at 8-6. Benson followed up with a kill, his first of the night. Ramanis and Julien recorded block assists to even the set at 8-8. Ball State then went on a 3-0 run, taking the score to 11-8. The Cougars took their turn with a 5-0 run, forcing Ball State to take a timeout at 15-13 for BYU.
An attack error and service error by Ball State enabled BYU to take the lead at 18-17. Browne earned an ace, making Ball State take another timeout. BYU took a lead at 21-18, but the Cardinals took the next two points, cutting the score closer at 21-20. BYU reached the set point at 24-21 when Ball State took its final timeout of the set. Ball State took the next two points, but BYU was able to close at 25-23 as a result of a Browne kill.
Both teams hit under .200 in the second set, with five service errors by Ball State.
The Cardinals took an early lead at 7-4, but another service error by Ball State took the score to 7-5. The Cougars couldn’t secure a lead, so they were forced to take a timeout when the score was at 13-9. After the break, BYU took the next two points after back-to-back kills by Benson.
BYU’s offense would not break through until the Cougars evened the set at 16-16, after a pancake dig by Stanley and Ramanis kill. Olmstead took his second timeout at 17-19 and Ramanis followed up with a kill, his 10th of the night. Benson also capitalized off the momentum for another BYU kill, making Ball State take a timeout. Ramanis got an ace for a BYU lead at 20-19, its first lead of the set. The Cougars then turned the tide of the set, taking the next two points. Ramanis got another ace to take the score to 23-19, BYU’s fifth ace of the night at that point. The Cougars took the set lead at 2-1 after a Ball State service ace, winning the third set 25-21.
BYU had 16 kills compared to BSU’s 14 in set three. Ramanis led the Cougars with four kills and two aces.
BYU took the first point of a set for the first time tonight after a BSU attack error. BYU took the lead at 6-5 after a BSU service error and Browne ace.
Two aces in a row by Julien took BYU’s lead to 11-9. Tied at 14-14, a kill by BYU’s Benson forced Ball State to take a timeout. The Cardinals pulled off a lead at 18-16, and would take a timeout once BYU cut their steady lead to 21-20. A kill by Browne, his 13th of the night, would tie the set at 22-22.
Ball State had the set point at 24-23 but then Benson recorded a BYU kill. Ball State utilized its first challenge of the match in an attempt to win the set, but the call was not reversed. Ball State was at its second set point at 25-24 after another Ndavazocheva kill, but Ramanis then had an overpass kill followed by a Julien ace for a BYU set point. The Cougars closed the match after a Ball State attacking error at 27-25.
The Cougars will face Ball State again on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. EST with live broadcast coverage on ESPN3.
No. 11 BYU travels to No. 8 Ball State this week
PROVO, Utah — After a road series against UC Irvine, the Cougars (5-1) moved up to No. 11 in this week’s AVCA coaches poll. BYU split the series 1-1 with No. 6 UC Irvine, defeating the Anteaters on Saturday, January 27 in a 3-2 upset win.
Teon Taylor won Off the Block National Middle Attacker of the Week and was also named MPSF player of the week. It was BYU’s first weekly conference honor since former Cougar Davide Gardini won Offensive Player of the Week on March 21, 2021.
BYU will face the No. 8 ranked Ball State Cardinals (4-2) in Indiana this week for a two-game matchup on Thursday and Saturday. Most recently, the Cougars hosted the Cardinals in the Smith Fieldhouse in 2021, splitting the series 1-1. The Cardinals have suffered two losses this season, but fell to the No. 1 team in the country Hawaii both times.
This is BYU's second week in-a-row facing another ranked opponent. BYU's No. 11 spot is its highest ranking since February 8, 2022.
- Series Record: BYU leads 12-4
- Last Meeting: BYU lost 3-1 (25-23,19-25, 31-33, 20-25)
- Home: 9-1
- Away: 2-1
- Neutral: 1-2
- Thursday: 7 p.m. EST
- Saturday: 3 p.m. EST
- Streaming: ESPN+