No. 15 Ball State Escapes With 3-2 Win At Lewis

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - - The 15th-ranked Ball State men’s volleyball team escaped Neil Carey Arena with a thrilling 3-2 (30-24, 31-29, 28-30, 23-30, 15-13) Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association victory over Lewis Tuesday evening in Romeoville, Ill.

   With the win, Ball State improves to 15-9 overall and 6-4 in MIVA play. Lewis falls to 16-8 (5-4 MIVA) with the loss. The win also gives the Cardinals a half-match lead in battle for the No. 3 seed in the upcoming MIVA tournament. However, if Ball State and Lewis end the regular season tied in the standings, the Flyers would hold the tiebreaker for the third seed based on point differential in the two matches played between the two teams.

   Junior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) led all players with a career-high 18 kills in the contest, while hitting for a .500 (18-4-28) rate of success. He also added three total blocks and four digs.

   Freshman outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) added 14 kills in the win, while junior middle blocker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) scored 13. Senior libero Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) paced all players with 14 digs in the match.

   Lewis finished the match with a slim .161 (54-31-143) to .160 (68-43-156) hitting advantage and out-blocked the Cardinals 26.0 to 10. Ball State held a nine to six advantage in service aces and a 49 to 42 lead in digs.

   Ian Karbiener led the Flyers with 15 kills, while Nathan Klaas added 13 and Brian Muesenfechter scored 12. Matt Gallik turned in a dominating performance at the net, throwing up 13 total blocks (three solo and 10 assists), while Rikki Garma scored a team-high 10 digs.

   Two solo blocks and a pair of Ball State errors helped the Flyers pull out to a 4-2 lead in the opening set. However, a pair of Wrather kills and back-to-back Lewis errors gave the Cardinals a two point edge at 6-4. The hosts answered with the next two points, capped by a Gallik kill, to tie the frame at six. From there, the opponents battled to a 13-13 stalemate before a Muesenfechter kill and a block assist from Gallik and Klass gave the hosts a 15-13 edge at the media timeout.

   The Cardinals responded with a 5-1 run out for the break, including a kill and block assist from Nelson, to take a brief 18-16 edge. After the hosts answered with the next three points to pull ahead 19-18, a setter dump from BSU’s Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) and a pair of attack errors forced Lewis to use its first timeout trailing 21-19.

   Two rallies later, a kill from Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) and a Pheister solo block extended the Cardinals advantage to four at 23-19. While Lewis would pull within two at 25-23, BSU scored five of the final six points to win the game 30-24. A Gasparovic ace gave BSU a five-point lead at 28-23, while an Eric Schulte (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) ace ended the game.

   BSU’s offense connected for a .290 (17-8-31) rate of success in the opening game, while the defense limited Lewis to a .062 (11-9-32) mark. Ball State also held a 10 to five advantage in digs, while the Flyers held a six to two edge in team blocks.

   Jay Petty opened the second game with a kill for the Flyers who built an early 3-0 lead. Schulte would help the Cardinals respond with two kills and an ace, brining the guests within one at 6-5. After a two-point run from Lewis, a Pheister kill, a Wrather ace and a Nelson smash evened the score for the first time at 8-8.

   Much like the first game, the teams battled to a 13-13 deadlock before kills from Karbiener and Muesenfechter gave Lewis a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. Two Nelson kills and a pair of Lewis attack errors allowed the Cardinals to tie the set at 17, while Wrather’s second ace of the game gave BSU its first lead at 18-17. After a two-point run from the Flyers, BSU’s middles scored back-to-back kills leading to a Lewis timeout at 20-19.

   A block assists from Gasparovic and Meyer extended the Ball State lead to three at 22-19, only to have the hosts battle back and take a 24-23 edge on a kill from Karbiener.  Kills from Gasparovic and Wrather reversed the lead at 25-24, while four errors and a Nelson kill moved the score to 27-all. Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) broke the tie with a service ace off the net tape, but a Mike Iandolo solo block tied the score once again.

   A Wrather kill gave BSU the first game point, but a service error knotted the score for the 15th time in the game. Nelson gave the Cardinals its second frame point with a clutch kill, while BSU’s block came up huge as Meyer and Gasparovic combined for a game-winning block assist. The Cardinals’ offense hit .250 (18-8-40) in the second game, while the defense limited Lewis to a .107 (9-6-28) mark. Despite being out-blocked six to two in the frame, it was the Cardinals block coming up huge with the game-winning stuff.

   Four Lewis errors helped the Cardinals pull out to a 4-1 lead early in the third game, while a Gasparovic kill and a Wrather solo block extended the advantage to four at 6-2. With Ball State leading 7-3, the Flyers stormed back with two blocks and two kills to tie the game at seven and cause a BSU timeout.

   With the score tied at 12, a block assist from Aaron Flick and Iandolo sparked a 4-0 Flyers run, giving the hosts a 16-12 lead and forcing Ball State’s second timeout. Two Nelson kills and a block assist from Nelson and Pheister helped BSU draw within two, while a Pheister kill on the next play cut the gap to one at 17-16.

   Lewis followed with another four-point run, moving the score to 21-16. Ball State responded with seven of the next nine points, as another Spadavecchio ace cut the lead to 24-23 and forced a Flyers timeout. Unfortunately, the Cardinals would get no closer, as the teams traded the final 11 points giving the Flyers a 30-28 third-game win.

   This time it was the Lewis offense connecting for a .233 (16-6-43) rate of success, while the Flyer’s defense limited Ball State to a .048 (13-11-42) hitting mark. Lewis added five more blocks in the frame, compared to two for the Cardinals.

   Gasparovic came to life early in the fourth game, scoring four early kills to help BSU keep the score tied at five. Moments later his second service ace of the night gave Ball State a three-point lead at 8-5. While Lewis scored three quick points to tie the game, two errors and a Schulte ace gave BSU its three-point lead back at 11-8.

   Lewis rallied back once again, this time using two kills and two aces from Karbiener to help pull ahead 15-13 at the media break. Trailing 17-14, the Cardinals posted a 3-0 run to tie the set at 17 on a Wrather kill. The hosts responded with a 6-0 run, which included four Gallik blocks (two solo and two assists), to force Ball State to use both its timeouts.

   Trailing 23-17 after both its timeouts, the Cardinals used a Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) kill to stop the momentum momentarily, but it was not enough as Lewis went on to win the game 30-23 on a Ball State service error.

   The Lewis front line was the story of the fourth game, as they posted eight total blocks to limit the Ball State offense to a .000 (12-12-31) attacking mark. Lewis hit .217 (10-5-23) in the set.

   Neither team was able to pull away early in the fifth game, as the teams battled to a 7-7 stalemate. Ball State would use a Nelson kill to take a slim 8-7 advantage at the court switch, only to have a Karbiener kill tie the game again at eight.

   With Ball State ahead 9-8, back-to-back kills from Klaas gave Lewis a slim 10-9 lead. Gasparovic would follow with a kill, while three rallies later a Lewis attack error gave BSU a 12-11 advantage and led to a Lewis minute break. A Spadavecchio kill after the timeout extended the Ball State lead to 13-11, while a Karbiener attack error gave the Cardinals match-point at 14-11.

   The hosts followed with a Klaas kill and an Iandolo block to force a Ball State timeout at 14-13. The Cardinals would not be denied the victory, however, as a Wrather kill ended the game at 15-13 and the match at 3-2. Ball State hit .333 (8-4-12) in the final frame, compared to .176 (8-5-17) for the Flyers.

   The No. 15 Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to action Friday, when it hosts King College in a 7:30 p.m.  non-conference showdown at Worthen Arena.

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