HONOLULU, Hi. - - The 14th-ranked Ball State (2-0) men's volleyball team opened play in the 17th Annual Outrigger Hotels Invitational with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-17) sweep of fifth-ranked and tournament host Hawai'i (0-1) late Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The win is BSU's first over the Warriors since the third-place match of the 1995 NCAA Tournament, breaking an eight-match losing streak. It is also BSU's first win over Hawai'i in the Outrigger Hotels Invitational, as BSU was 0-4 versus the hosts in its four previous trips to the event.
In the victory, the Cardinals were paced offensively by sophomore outside attacker Greg Herceg's (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) career-high 10 kills and .421 (10-2-19) attack percentage.
Senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) also had a huge impact on offense, racking up eight kills and a .667 (8-0-12) hitting mark. However, his play at the net was an even bigger boost for BSU, as he collected a match-best nine total blocks including three solo stuffs.
In his first collegiate start, freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) guided the Ball State attack to a .295 (32-9-78) rate of success, handing out 23 assists while adding career-highs of seven digs and five block assists.
Freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Indianapolis, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) also tallied seven digs in the win for BSU, while redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) added six kills and four digs.
Overall, the Cardinals limited the Warriors' attack to a .045 (36-31-110) rate of success for the night helped by 10 total team blocks. Hawai'i held a 34-to-28 advantage in digs and a 2-to-0 edge in aces.
Jonas Umlauft led the Warriors from the attack line with a match-best 13 kills. Joshua Walker added a match-best eight digs to go along with eight kills.
The first set, which was the closest of the night with 15 ties and three lead changes, saw the teams play to a 21-21 stalemate. Following a UH attack error, a kill from Spadavecchio gave BSU a two-point lead at 23-21.
Steven Hunt tried the keep the Warriors alive with a kill, but a Nelson solo block gave BSU set-point at 24-22. McIlvaine and senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) followed with a game-ending block assist.
Four quick Hawai'i errors and another Spadavecchio kill helped Ball State take control of the second set early, as they pulled ahead 5-0. The Warriors followed with the next four points, but a pair of kills from Herceg and a blast from senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) helped BSU regain a four-point edge at 10-6.
The hosts would get no closer than three points the rest of the frame, as BSU went on to win the game 25-20 on a kill from Herceg.
The teams played to a 12-12 deadlock in the second game before some strong serving from Gasparovic helped force three-straight Warriors' errors. The Cardinals would not look back from there, as a kill and two blocks from Nelson led to was UH timeout at 19-15. BSU went on to score six of the final eight points to win the set 25-17 on Spadavecchio's sixth kill of the night.