Penn State Upset by Ball State in Trap Game
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No. 7 Penn State squared off against Ball State on Friday night in hopes of extending its winning streak to five, but the Nittany Lions could not gain any traction, resulting in a quick 3-0 Ball State sweep following a close first set.
After an impressive victory over No. 6 UCLA last Friday, the Nittany Lions went on to beat USC in a thrilling five-set match two days later. This set up a home trap game against Ball State, just one night before a critical matchup against Ohio State on Saturday.
The Cardinals beat the Nittany Lions last year 3-1 and had their number again this year. The Nittany Lions’ tough schedule forces them to focus on every game, and a lapse in focus gave Ball State a chance to pull off the road upset, which it did quite convincingly.
In the first set, both teams went back and forth until Ball State snatched a 30-28 victory from the Nittany Lions. The Cardinals were on a three-game losing streak coming into Friday, so a first-set victory gave them a much-needed boost to win the match outright.
It was all downhill from the first set for Penn State, as the Cardinals won Sets 2 and 3 rather quickly by scores of 25-19 and 25-20.
“In Games 2 and 3, the momentum played a factor,” said Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik. “Momentum in volleyball is simply serving tough and siding out, and we had a tough time scoring points in transition. I think our pride got dented in Game 1.”
The Nittany Lions did not help their cause late, as they committed 19 errors in the final two sets.
Pavlik understood coming in that this was a trap game that could give his team trouble.
“One of the toughest things to do with a team that’s trying to figure out who they are and that has a good sense that they can play at a high level is beating the teams you are supposed to beat,” Pavlik said.
The tough defeat came in the South Gym rather than the main Rec Hall Gym due to gymnastics. The last time the Nittany Lions lost to Ball State at home also took place in the South Gym.
But Pavlik didn’t think the change of scenery had an impact on the result of the game, stating, “That's where we practice.”
The Nittany Lions will look to rebound against Ohio State on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Ben Geller is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.