No. 3 Cal State Northridge Sweeps Ball State

MUNCIE, Ind. - - Despite a furious rally in the third game, the Ball State men's volleyball team suffered a 3-0 (30-22, 30-24, 30-28) setback to third-ranked Cal State Northridge Friday night at Worthen Arena.

   With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 12-8 on the season, while the Matadors improve to 16-6.

   Eric Schulte (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) paced the Ball State attack with eight kills in the contest, including five in the hard-fought third game. He also led the BSU defense with a match-high 10 digs, while adding a pair of block assists.

   In the middle, J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) and Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) added six kills each, with Gasparovic posting a team-high four blocks (one solo and three assists), while Nelson added three.

   Kevin McKniff led the Northridge attack with a match-best 13 kills, while hitting for a .632 (13-1-19) rate of success. Theo Edwards also finished the night with double-figure kills at 11. John Baker and Mike Gaudino tied for team-high honors with nine digs apiece.

   As a team, CSUN held a .264 (48-19-110) to .157 (40-24-102) attacking edge in the contest. However, the Cardinals held a .342 (19-6-38) to .262 (18-7-42) advantage in the third game. Both teams finished the match with 35 digs, while BSU held an 8.5 to 8 lead in team blocks.

   Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) started the match with a kill and a block assists to help the Cardinals pull out to an early 2-0 lead. Two Northridge errors quickly moved the score to 4-1. However, the Matadors were able to rally back behind a pair of kills from Jacek Ratajczak to tie the score at seven.

   Cal State Northridge took their first lead at the 10-9 mark on a kill from Baker, but moments later the Cardinals used a kill from Gasparovic and two more Northridge errors to pull ahead 15-14 and force a Matadors timeout.

   After the teams traded the next two points, the guests from California went on a 4-0 run, pushing the score to 19-16 which caused a Ball State minute break. While a Nelson kill after the break cut the advantage to two at 19-17, BSU was forced into its second timeout out trailing 23-18. Northridge went on to win the game 30-22 on an Edwards kill.

   Edwards and Nelson traded kills to open the second game, only to see three straight Ball State errors push the score to 4-1. This time it was BSU's turn to battle back, as they used a Gasparovic kill and four Northridge errors to tie the score at six.

   Moments later, a Schulte kill and a block assist from Nelson and Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 8-7.

   Unfortunately, the Matadors responded with a 3-1 run and never trailed again. The Cardinals kept the game within one at 16-15, only to see six-straight CSUN points move the score to 21-15. The guests went on to win the frame 30-24 on a Baker kill.

   The third game was another back-and-forth battle early as the teams played to an 11-11 deadlock, capped by an kill from Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) on a spectacular dig that went over the net and fell to the hardwood floor. After the Wrather kill, it looked like the Matadors were going to pull away, scoring four of the next five points making the score 15-12.

   However, a Schulte kill and a pair of block assists from Nelson and Matt Sprague (Ballwin, Mo./Marquette H.S.) knotted the score back at 15 and led to a Northridge timeout. Ball State would go on to capture the lead moments later at 18-17 on a Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) kill, one of his five in the game.

   With the score tied at 20, a triple block from Gasparovic, Schulte and Sprague, followed by a kill from Schulte gave the hosts a two-point lead at 22-20 and forced CSUN's second timeout. While BSU extended its lead to three points at the 25-22 mark on a tip kill from Sprague, the Matadors charged back with the next two points, causing a Ball State break.

   With the Cardinals holding a 26-24 lead, the guests rattled off the next three points to pull ahead 27-26 on a McKniff kill. A Spadavecchio kill tied the game one more time for the Cardinals at 27, but the guests scored three of the final four points, winning the game 30-28 on McKniff's 13th and final marker of the night.

   The Cardinals and third-ranked Matadors continue play in the 2010 Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge Saturday with another 7:30 p.m. first serve at Worthen Arena. Ball State Sports Link will webcasted the match live and free of charge on ballstatesports.com.

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