MALIBU, Calif. - - Despite an inspired performance from freshman Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) the Ball State men's volleyball team suffered a 3-0 (30-25, 31-29, 30-18) loss to No. 2 Pepperdine Thursday evening at Firestone Fieldhouse.
The Cardinals fall to 10-7 overall with the loss, while the Waves improve to 11-5 after the victory.
Wrather finished the match with team-highs of 10 kills and six digs while adding a pair of blocks. Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) and Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) each added six kills in the match.
Pepperdine was paced offensively by Maurice Torres who blasted 13 kills, while Cory Riecks added 10. Waves' setter Kasey Crider led the team with a match-high eight digs.
Overall Pepperdine out-hit the Cardinals .369 (46-15-84) to .130 (39-26-100) in the contest, while holding a 10.5 to seven advantage in blocks and a 27 to 21 lead in digs.
Errors proved costly for the Cardinals in the opening game, as four service error and three attack errors helped the hosts pull out to a slim 11-10 advantage. From there, kills from four different Pepperdine players moved the score to 15-10.
Ball State would battle back within three points on several occasions, including the 23-20 mark thanks to a kill from Eric Schulte (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.). However the hosts followed with the next three points to build the largest lead of the game at six.
A kill from Wrather and a pair of blocks (both including Nelson) helped Ball State draw within three once again at 26-23, but the Waves would score four of the final six points to win the game 30-25 on a Tyler James kill.
Kills from Spadavecchio, Schulte and J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) helped BSU pull out to an early 5-3 edge in the second game. However, six more early BSU errors allowed helped Pepperdine tie the score at eight.
The Cardinals responded with a kill from Schulte and a Nelson ace to force the hosts into an early timeout, while a Waves' attack error after the break gave BSU a three-point lead at 11-8. Moments later, Ball State gained a 13-9 advantage on another bad swing from Pepperdine.
The hosts responded with the next four points, including an ace and kill from Riecks, to tie the game at 13. After Ball State's first timeout of the frame, a kill from Wrather helped the BSU regain a three-point lead at 16-13, while a Gasparovic ace pushed the score to 18-14.
With the Cardinals maintaining a 23-20 lead, the hosts battled back to tie the frame at 23 thanks to a kill from J.D. Schleppenbach and a pair of blocks. From there, the teams traded the next six points, pushing the score to 26-26.
Pepperdine would make the first surge for the set victory, as a kill from Riecks and a block assist from Torres and Rodnei Santos pushed the score to 28-26. BSU's powerful middle combo of Nelson and Gasparovic countered with back-to-back kills of their own, knotting the score back at 28.
After a Torres kill gave the Waves game-point, a Gasparovic blast tied the score one more time at 29-29. However, a kill from Santos and a BSU attack error allowed the hosts to escape with a 31-29 second-game victory.
Kills from Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) and Gasparovic would help the Cardinals post the first two points of the third game, only to have Pepperdine score the next two points. While Ball State was able to battle to a 6-6 tie, a six-point run from the second-ranked Waves pushed the score to 12-6.
From there, Pepperdine pulled ahead by 10 points at 17-7, before winning the game 30-18 on Brent Schirripa's eighth kill of the game.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action next Friday (March 19) when it heads to Fairfax, Va., to battle George Mason on its annual east coast swing. The following night, the Cardinals will play at Rutgers-Newark. Both matches are slated to start at 7 p.m.