LOS ANGELES, Calif. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team could not overcome a strong UCLA team, suffering a 3-0 (30-26, 30-18, 30-27) setback to the eighth-ranked Bruins Wednesday evening at Pauley Pavilion. With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 10-6 on the year, while the Bruins improve to 11-9.
Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) was Ball State's top attack in the match, recording nine kills, while J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) ended the night with six. Gasparovic also led the Cardinals with four blocks, while Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) collected a match-high nine digs.
UCLA was led on both offense and defense by Jack Polales, who scored a match-high 13 kills and a team-best seven digs.
For the match, UCLA held a decisive .283 (45-17-99) to .101 (37-27-99) attacking advantage, as well as a 14 to five lead in total blocks. Both teams concluded the match with 29 digs.
While a pair of kill from Hartley helped the Cardinals surge out to a 3-2 advantage early in the first game, UCLA battled back to take an 8-6 lead moments later. Ball State used a kill from Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) and a UCLA attack error to tie the set at eight, only to have the hosts post the next three points and force a Ball State timeout at 11-8.
The Bruins would continue to hold the momentum, pulling ahead by as many as nine at the 21-12 mark. However, kills from Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.), Hartley and Matt Sprague (Ballwin, Mo./Marquette H.S.) helped BSU score three of the next four points, leading to a UCLA minute break at 22-15.
Three rallies later, the host Bruins were forced to use their second timeout after a pair of attack errors and a block from Meyer and Gasparovic pushed the score to 22-18. Ball State would eventually battle back within two points at 26-24 after a Hartley kill, but could not push through, as UCLA scored four of the final six points to win the game 30-26.
The Cardinals opened the second frame with a block assist from Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) and Gasparovic and pulled ahead 4-3. Unfortunately, the host Bruins would respond with the next eight points to take control of the game at 11-4.
UCLA would go on to win the game 30-18 despite some solid play from Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.), who blasted four kills and an ace while adding four digs late in the game.
While a Pheister ace helped the Cardinals tie the third game at six early, a BSU service error and two aces from UCLA's Nick Vogel helped the hosts pull out to a 9-6 edge. The Bruins would pull ahead by five at the 15-10, only to have BSU battle back within two at 18-16.
UCLA looked poised to pull away again with the next two points, but three kills from BSU's Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) helped the Cardinals pull back within two at 21-19. The Bruins scored four of the next five points, building a 24-20 cushion, only to see BSU respond with a three-point run of its own. The run, which included a block assist and kill from Meyer, forced UCLA to call timeout.
Kills from Polales and Garrett Muagututia, as well as a BSU attack error, helped UCLA score the next three points and led to Ball State's final timeout at 27-23. The Cardinals scored the first two points after the break, moving the score to 28-25, but the teams traded the final four points at the hosts went on to win the game 30-27.
The Ball State men's volleyball team will conclude its three-game spring break trip tomorrow (Thursday) with a 7 p.m. first serve at No. 2 Pepperdine.