Jan. 14—The Ball State men's volleyball coach had watched Hawaii opposite Dimitrios Mouchlias struggle from across the net at times in the Cardinals' meetings with the Rainbow Warriors last season.
Donan Cruz had seen this scenario before.
The Ball State men's volleyball coach had watched Hawaii opposite Dimitrios Mouchlias struggle from across the net at times in the Cardinals' meetings with the Rainbow Warriors last season.
The Baldwin graduate had also witnessed Mouchlias' ability to take over a match.
"We saw a lot of that in our Final Four matchup, " Cruz said, referring to UH's five-set win last May in Los Angeles.
"Mouchlias really changed his game, and he's the type of player that can go from zero to 100 miles per hour and then you're wondering what hit you."
After a rough start from the service line through two sets on Friday, Mouchlias had the Cardinals reeling with a burst of six aces over the next two sets and No. 1 Hawaii completed a series sweep of No. 6 Ball State with a four-set victory at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
Mouchlias misfired on four of his seven service attempts in the first two sets. He then tied his career high with four aces in the third set alone and added two more in the fourth to help propel UH to the 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-18 win before a crowd of 6, 148.
"I know I can serve well and I was, I would say, unlucky at the beginning, " Mouchlias said. "But I found it and kept doing what I can do."
UH outside hitter Spyros Chakas put away a match-high 22 kills, Mouchlias added 13 and Chaz Galloway finished with 12 and the Rainbow Warriors (2-0 ) rebounded from an error-plagued opening set to run their winning streak to 11 dating back to last season.
The run now includes three wins over Ball State following the comeback victory on a night that began with the unveiling of UH's 2022 national championship banner.
UH libero'Eleu Choy and outside hitter Makua Marumoto shared the honors of unfurling the banner from the catwalk above the court prior to the introduction of the starting lineups.
Ball State wasted no time in dousing the festivities by scoring the first three points of the match and posting three blocks to take a 6-3 lead.
The Warriors committed nine service errors in the set along with five attack errors, three coming on Ball State blocks. Still, they managed to close within a point on six occasions before Ball State claimed the set on (what else ?) a UH service error.
"We made 15 errors and they had six and it was deuce, " UH coach Charlie Wade said of the first set. "So we were scoring a lot, we just have to get it calibrated where we were in a better rhythm."
Chakas had six kills in eight swings in the second set and Mouchlias' service turns in the third and fourth tilted the match in UH's favor.
UH libero Brett Sheward set a career high with 17 digs and setter Jakob Thelle distributed 54 assists for an attack that hit.439. The Warriors held Ball State to.295 and overcame 23 service errors in the win.
"I think it's controlling our side of the net, because we had a lot of errors in the beginning of the first set, " Thelle said. "(Ball State ) took really good charge of running good offense and having few errors. But (it was ) us coming back and playing our game, because we let them play their game too much in the first set."
Mouchlias had 19 kills in UH's win over Ball State in last year's national semifinals, but hit.000 in Thursday's season opener with seven kills and seven errors. He responded by hitting.455 on Friday with just three errors in his 22 attempts.
"I didn't think a lot about it, " Mouchlias said. "I know I can play well and last night wasn't my night, so I was, 'OK tomorrow's a new day.' "
Ball State outside hitter Kaleb Jenness led the Cardinals with 15 kills but also had eight errors in hitting.189 coming off Thursday's 18-kill performance on.385 hitting. The Warriors finished with five blocks in the match, with Chakas and Cole Hogland coming up with solo roofs on Jenness in the fourth set.
Hogland's block gave UH match point and Ball State's 16th service error ended the night.
The Warriors conclude their season-opening homestand with a two-match series with Saint Francis on Wednesday and Friday.