FAIRFAX, Va. - - The Ball State men’s volleyball team hit a season-best .340 on their way to a 3-1 (30-25, 27-30, 30-22, 30-23) non-conference victory over George Mason Friday evening at RAC Gym.
With the win, the Cardinals complete a season sweep of the Patriots and improve to 11-7 overall on the year. GMU falls to 4-11 with the loss.
In addition to finishing the match with a season-high .340 (71-21-147) attack percentage, four different Cardinals finished the contest with double-digit kills led by Larry Wrather’s (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) 16. Wrather also added a career-high 10 digs for his first career double-double, while collecting four total blocks, including a career-best and match-high three solo stuffs.
J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) finished the night with a match-best .786 attack percentage for the Cardinals, smashing 11 kills on 14 swings with no errors. He also logged three total blocks.
Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) added 14 kills for the Cardinals, while Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) posted 12 kills and a team-best five total blocks.
BSU libero Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) led all players with 17 digs, while setter Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) added 10 digs to his 59 assists for his third assist/dig double-double of the season.
George Mason’s Michael Kvidahl led all players with 21 kills, while Andrew Dentler added 13 and Lance Rogers scored 10. Dentler also added a team-high 12 digs for a kill/dig double-double.
Defensively, Ball State limited George Mason to a .197 (58-27-157) attack percentage, while out-digging the Patriots 60 to 49. The Cardinals also held a 12 to 9.5 advantage in total blocks.
The Ball State block came to life early in the opening set, as a pair of block assists surrounding a Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) kill helped the Cardinals build a 3-1 lead it would never relinquish. Back-to-back smashes from Nelson gave BSU an 8-4 lead, while a kill and solo block from Gasparovic pushed the advantage to six at 14-8.
With the Cardinals maintaining a five-point lead at 18-13 after a Wrather kill, the Patriots would battle back within one at 18-17 in a 4-0 run capped by a Dentler kill. From there, the teams traded the next 12 points, before kills from Nelson and Meyer gave BSU a 26-23 edge. The Cardinals followed with four of the final six points to win the frame 30-25 on a Wrather kill.
While a pair of GMU errors gave the Cardinals two of the first three points in the second game, it was three kills from Michael Kvidahl over the next four rallies that helped the hosts gain the momentum early. The Patriots lead by as many as four points, including the 14-10 mark, before the Cardinals chipped away the lead and tied the game at 15 on a block assists from Pheister and Nelson.
The teams battled back-and-forth from there, trading the lead several times, only to push the stalemate to 22-22. Kvidahl and Dentler kills gave the hosts the next two points and control of the game, as George Mason won the frame 30-27 on a Rogers kill.
An ace from Eric Lucas helped George Mason post three of the first four points in game three, and the hosts held on to an early lead through the 12-10 mark. However, a Wrather kill and a Lucas attack error allowed BSU to tie the frame two points later. Moments later, the Cardinals took their first lead since the game’s opening point at 15-14 thanks to a GMU attack error.
Ball State would go on to build a three-point lead at the 20-17 mark thanks to a triple block from Nelson, Pheister and Wrather. While the teams traded the next six points, making the score 23-20, the Cardinals used two Wrather kills and a Gasparovic marker to pull ahead by six at 27-21. BSU went on to win the stanza 30-22 on three-straight George Mason errors.
The teams battles to a 5-5 deadlock in the fourth game, before an Eric Schulte (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) kill and a Wrather service ace gave the visitors from Muncie a 7-5 edge. While George Mason battled back to tie the game at 14, the Cardinals scored the next three points to pull ahead 17-14.
George Mason took one more shot at tying the game, scoring the next two points, but kills from Gasparovic and Meyer gave the Cardinals their three-point lead back at 19-16. From there, it was all Ball State, as the Cardinals pulled ahead by seven at 26-19 before winning the game 30-23 on a match-winning kill from Schulte.
The Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to action tomorrow (Saturday), when it concluded a five-match coast-to-coast road swing with a 7 p.m. first serve at Rutgers-Newark.