Fort Wayne, IN - In a sloppy offensive match in which the two sides combined to hit just .168, it was the Ball State Cardinals who prevailed over the IPFW Mastodons, 24-30, 26-30, 24-30.
Neither the Mastodons (.147 team hitting percentage) nor the Cardinals (.194 team hitting percentage) managed to put a single player in double-digit kills in the three set match.
Ball State leapt out to an early 8-6 lead and slowly grew it to eight at 21-13 on a block and IPFW attack error. A service ace by Ball State's Dominic Spadavecchio pushed the lead to eight at 24-16 and the Cardinal attack pushed on. With the score at 29-22, IPFW managed to fight off two set-points before a service error closed the set 30-24 in favor of the Cardinals.
The 'Dons hit just .033 in the opening frame, thanks in large part to 6.5 blocks by Ball State in the first set.
IPFW fell behind early again in the second set, as the Cardinals built their early lead to four at 15-11 at the first media timeout. Clawing back, the IPFW offense captured five of the next six points to knot the match at 16-16. A pair of huge blocks by the 'Dons pushed the lead to 18-16 before the Cardinal offense fired back.
A service ace by Ball State's Ethan Pheister tied the score at 21 before a pair of IPFW attack errors swung the momentum to the visiting squad. Ball State rattled off eight of the next 13 points, fighting off a brief IPFW charge that cut the lead to one at 27-26, before closing the match with a kill from Matt Sprague for a 30-26 victory.
In the third set, the Cardinals took a one-point lead at 7-6, a lead they wouldn't surrender again through the set and match. A service ace by Pheister pushed their lead to seven at 20-13 as the Cardinals grew their advantage to as many as eight at 27-19 before cruising to a 30-24 set and match victory.
Sophomore Corey Frain led the IPFW offense with nine kills and a .615 hitting percentage while freshman Elon Fyfield posted eight kills on a .727 hitting percentage in just one set of action. Kevin Goncalves posted 18 assists from the setter position and freshman Elias Aparcedo added 11 in one set of action during his Mastodon debut. Patrick Pinto led the defense with seven digs.
The loss drops the 'Dons to 9-15 overall and 2-8 in MIVA play. The Cardinals improve to 5-4 in conference action and 14-9 in the 2010 season.
IPFW returns to action next Friday (Apr. 9) as they host the Saint Francis (Pa.) Red Flash. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne.