HONOLULU, Hawaii - - The 14th-ranked Ball State (2-2) men's volleyball team ended play in the 17th Annual Outrigger Hotels Invitational with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20) setback to No. 10 Penn State (2-1) Saturday evening at Hawai'i's Stan Sheriff Center.
In the setback, redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) paced the Ball State offense with seven kills, while adding a .400 (7-1-15) hitting percentage, three digs and a service ace.
Senior middle attackers J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) and Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) each collected six kills in the contest, as did sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.).
In the backcourt, freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) and senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) tied for team-high honors with five digs.
Joe Sunder paced the Penn State offense with a 13 kills, while Tom Comfort chipped in 10. PSU libero Dennis Del Valle led all players with a match-high 10 digs.
Overall, the Nittany Lions held a .390 (45-13-82)-to-.270 (34-14-74) hitting advantage in the contest, while out-digging the Cardinals 24-to-20. PSU also held a 7.5-to-4 edge in team blocks, while serving up six aces compared to two for the Cardinals.
While a kill from Nelson helped the Cardinals pull ahead 2-1 early in the first set, three straight Penn State points gave the Nittany Lions a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the frame. With PSU leading by six at the media timeout, a 3-0 run started by a Gasparovic kill gave the Cardinals life.
Several rallies later, a kill from Meyer helped draw BSU within two at 19-17. Unfortunately, Ball State would get no closer, as the Nittany Lions scored six of the final eight points to win the set 25-19 on a Comfort kill.
With Penn State holding a 12-8 advantage in the second set, a kill and block assist from Gasparovic helped BSU post the next four points and tie the score at 12. From there, the teams battled to a 20-20 stalemate. In the end, however, PSU was able to capitalize on three BSU errors over the next six rallies to win the set 25-21.
Two early PSU errors helped Ball State pull out to a 2-1 lead in the third set, only to have a three-point Nittany Lions run move the score to 4-2. Penn State extended its lead to four points at the 8-4 mark, only to have kills from Gasparovic and Nelson help BSU post the next four points and tie the score at 8-8.
With the score tied at 12, a 9-5 run by Penn State gave the Nittany Lions a 21-17 edge. While two errors cut the gap to two points, PSU managed to score four of the final five points to win the set 25-20 on a Nick Turko solo block.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Friday, Jan. 28, when it travels to the east coast for a 7 p.m. first serve at George Mason. The following night, the Cardinals will play an 8 p.m. match at Sacred Heart.