NEWARK, N.J. - - The Ball State men’s volleyball team ended its five-match coast-to-coast road swing with a 3-0 (30-25, 30-27, 30-28) sweep of Rutgers-Newark Saturday evening at the Golden Dome in Newark, N.J.
With the win, the Cardinals complete the season sweep of the Scarlet Raiders and improve to 12-7 overall this season. Rutgers-Newark falls to 7-10 with the loss, their 14th-straight setback to the Cardinals.
In Saturday’s win, junior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) led all players with a match-high 14 kills, while hitting for a .357 (14-4-28) rate of success. He also added four digs and a block assist.
Junior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) had another strong attacking match for the Cardinals, posting a match-high .636 attack percentage, with eight kills on 11 attempts with just one error. He also added four total blocks.
In the backcourt, BSU senior libero Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) paced all players with a match-high nine digs. Overall, the Cardinals held a 36 to 28 lead in digs.
Jon Keller paced the Rutgers-Newark attack with 11 kills, while Marcin Midura added eight. Jeff Zornig collected a team-best seven digs.
In addition to holding the lead in digs, Ball State out-hit the Scarlet Raiders .244 (39-17-90) to .119 (40-27-109) in the victory. BSU also out-blocked Rutgers-Newark nine to eight.
Behind a kill from Meyer and a block assists from Gasparovic and Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.), the Cardinals pulled out to a 4-1 advantage in the opening set. After a BSU service error, a Hartley kill and a pair of Rutgers-Newark attack errors pushed the Ball State advantage to five at 7-2, while two more Scarlet Raiders errors moved the score to 9-3.
With a 14-6 edge, the Cardinals used two more Rutgers-Newark errors and a Meyer kill to extend the lead to 11 at 17-6. While the hosts eventually battled back within three, at 27-24, the Cardinals scored three of the final four points to win the game 30-25.
Set two was hotly contested early, as the clubs battled to a 20-20 stalemate. Rutgers-Newark looked poised to break away from there, as two BSU errors surrounding a block from Midura and Mark Kochan gave the hosts a 23-20 lead and forced a Ball State timeout.
The Cardinals rallied back, however, as a Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) kill and a pair of blocks from Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) - the first solo and the second assisted by Wrather - tied the score again at 23.
With the hosts holding a slim 25-24 lead after a Dane Mulligan kill, three straight errors gave the momentum back to Ball State and pushed the score to 27-25. BSU went on to win the frame 30-27, thanks in part to two Gasparovic kills, including the game-winner.
The third game was another back-and-forth battle with the teams once again playing to a 20-20 deadlock. Rutgers-Newark got the early advantage once again, as kills from Jeff Zornig, Nate Stott and Keller gave the hosts a 24-21 lead.
After the teams traded the next four points, a Rutgers-Newark attack error and a Wrather service ace brought the Cardinals within one at 26-25. Moments later, another Meyer kills and a RNU attack error tied the score at 27-27.
Gasparovic followed with two kills over the next three rallies, giving the Cardinals match-point at 29-28. Senior setter Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) followed with a match-winning service ace at 30-28.
The Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday, when it hosts No. 3 Cal-State Northridge in the first of two meetings between the programs in the 2010 Don Shondell Active Ankle Challenge. The following night (Saturday), the teams will meet one more time at Worthen Arena.