Ball State Survives, 3-2, Battle At Grand Canyon

  PHOENIX, Ariz. - - The Ball State men’s volleyball team rallied from down 2-1 to score a thrilling 3-2 (30-18, 24-30, 28-30, 30-19, 15-13) Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association victory over Grand Canyon Tuesday evening at Antelope Gymnasium in Phoenix, Ariz.

   With the win, the Cardinals even their MIVA record at 4-4 and improve to 10-5 overall on the year. The Antelopes fall to 11-16 (0-6 MIVA) with the loss.

   Matt Sprague (Ballwin, Mo./Marquette H.S.) led three Cardinals in double-figures with a match-high 13, while J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) and Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) notched 12 each.

   Gasparovic also paced all players with a match-high nine total blocks, while Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) led all players with 15 digs. Hartley added a career-high 12 digs for his first career double-double.

   Tyler Capko led Grand Canyon and tied for match-high honors with 13 kills, while Taylor Griffin added 10.

   For the match, Ball State held a .194 (57-30-139) to .082 (52-39-158) attack percentage. The Cardinals also out-dug GCU 55 to 42 and held a 15.5 to 9.5 edge in blocks.

   In the opening game, the teams battled to an 8-8 deadlock before a kill from BSU’s Hartley and back-to-back blocks and a kill from Gasparovic forced GCU to call timeout trailing 12-8. Two kills from Grand Canyon’s Capko cut the lead to two, at 12-10, only to have Ball State respond with four of the next five points, making the score 16-11.

   The hosts would battle back within three, at 19-16, only to have a kill and two aces from Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) help Ball State pull away with the game. The guests from Muncie would go on to win the game 30-18 on a Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) ace.

   Grand Canyon opened the second game with the first three points and never looked back, winning the frame 30-24. Ball State would battle within two on several occasions, including the 13-11 mark, only to have GCU pull ahead by seven at 19-12.

   Trailing 27-20, the Cardinals tried to mount a come-back, using a Hartley kill and a pair of ‘Lopes errors to draw within four at 27-23. Unfortunately, a service error would end the rally, while a block assist from Chris Lockwood and Nick Jensen ended the game at 30-24.

   Game three saw the teams battle to a 10-10 tie before six Ball State errors on the next seven rallies led to a 17-10 Grand Canyon lead. A pair of ‘Lopes errors, a Gasparovic solo block and a Sprague forced a GCU timeout at 17-14.

   The Cardinals would fight all the way back and tie the game at 22-22 following a Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) kill and a GCU attack error. Moments later, a Sprague kill and Nelson solo block gave BSU just its third lead of the game at 25-24.

   Grand Canyon bounced back with the next four points, including a pair of Capko kills, to pull ahead 28-25. The Cardinals followed with kills from Sprague and Nelson to push the score to 28-27, while a Spadavecchio ace knotted the score at 28.

   Unfortunately, it was GCU that made the final push, using a kill from Capko and a block assist from Lockwood and Brad Moore to score the final two points and win the game 30-28.

   A Sprague kill and a pair of Grand Canyon attack errors gave the Cardinals a quick 3-0 advantage in the fourth game. While the hosts played within one at 3-2, BSU answered with four of the next five points to pull ahead 7-3.

   A Nelson ace led to a ‘Lopes timeout at 11-6, while a block from Gasparovic and Meyer followed by a pair of attack errors pushed the score to 14-6. Ball State would gain its first 10-point lead at 18-8 on a Sprague kill, while back-to-back Meyer kills gave BSU game point at 29-15. Two kills from Brock Hutchins help GCU score the next four points, before Eric Schulte’s (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) first kill of the night ended the game at 30-19.

   Ball State’s offense continued to roll early in the fifth game, as kills on four of the first six rallies led to a 5-1 BSU advantage. However, four service errors helped Grand Canyon close the gap to one at 8-7. The Cardinals followed with kills from Nelson and Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) to force the ‘Lopes second timeout of the game at 10-7.

   Back-to-back kills from Griffin after the break moved the score to 10-9, while a Gasparovic kill stopped the run on the next play. A huge block from Gasparovic and Sprague gave the Cardinals a 13-10 edge, while a service error gave BSU match-point two plays later at 14-11.

   Grand Canyon would not go down easy, as a kill from Zach Neilson and a BSU attack error moved the score to 14-13. Following a BSU timeout, however, the Cardinals were able to seal the win with a kill from Hartley at 15-13.

   The Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to action tomorrow (Wednesday) when it travels from Phoenix, Ariz., to Los Angeles, Calif., to face No. 8 UCLA in a 7 p.m. (PT) non-conference showdown.

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