No. 13 Ball State's Comeback Attempt Falls Short
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - - Trailing by two sets and 21-17 in the third, the 13th-ranked Ball State men's volleyball team rallied to win the third and fourth frames, but a come-from-behind victory was not in the cards as BSU suffered a 3-2 (25-22, 25-15, 23-25, 22-25, 15-10) setback to No. 14 Lewis Friday evening at Neil Carey Arena.
The loss snaps the Cardinals' three match winning streak and moves BSU to 5-4 (0-1 MIVA) this season. The Flyers improve to 8-2 (1-0 MIVA) with the victory.
Senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) was BSU's top performer in the contest, as he racked up 13 kills, seven blocks (three solo and four assists) and a .526 (13-3-19) attack percentage.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) tied Nelson for team-high honors with 13 kills while hitting for a .333 (13-5-24) rate of success.
Redshirt sophomore right side attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) played a large role in BSU's third and fourth set wins, collecting five kills in each frame, to finish the night with 10.
Freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) finished the match with his third double-double of the season with 54 assists and 10 digs, while freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) also collected 10 digs.
Lewis' Ian Karbiener led all players with a match-best 21 kills, while Jay Petty added 20. Karbiener added a match-high 14 digs to post a double-double.
The Flyers finished the night with a .310 (61-21-129) to .231 (62-29-143) advantage from the attack line, while out-blocking the Cardinals 17 to 9.5. Ball State held a slim 41 to 39 edge in digs, while being out-aced 6 to 3.
The Flyers soared out to a 5-1 advantage in the opening set, only to see the Cardinals battle back and tie the score at eight on a block assist from Nelson and Spadavecchio. From there, the teams battled to a 13-13 stalemate before a 4-1 run from the hosts forced a Ball State timeout.
Thanks to a pair of aces from sophomore outside hitter Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.), the Cardinals were able to fight back again, tying the score at 18. Unfortunately, Lewis followed with another 4-1 run, taking a 22-19 advantage. BSU score the next two points, but a kill and block assists from Lewis' Brian Muesenfechter ended the set four rallies later at 25-22.
The teams played to a 4-4 tie in the second game before a pair of BSU errors surrounding a kill from Lewis' Matt Gallik led to an early BSU minute break at 7-4. The Flyers tacked on the next three points and never looked back, winning the frame 25-15 on a Petty blast.
Set three saw the teams play to a 5-5 deadlock before a kill and block assist from Nelson, followed by a service ace from Hartley, forced a Lewis timeout at the 8-5 mark. The Flyers answered with five of the next seven points to tie the score at 10.
Lewis' surge continued, as the hosts added four of the next six points causing a Ball State timeout with the score at 14-12. The hosts looked poised to run away with the set, leading 21-17, but kills from Spadavecchio, Hartley and senior middle blocker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) brought BSU back within one at 21-20.
An attack error on the next play forced a Lewis timeout, while a Spadavecchio kill gave BSU a brief 22-21 advantage. Lewis tied the game on the next play and the score remained tied at the 23-23 mark. A costly service error from Karbiener gave BSU set-point, while a Hartley kill ended the frame at 25-23 in favor of the Cardinals.
A pair of Gasparovic kills helped BSU pull ahead 5-2 early in the fourth game, while two Hartley markers helped Ball State maintain the edge at 7-4. Lewis followed with eight of the next 11 points to force a Cardinals timeout at 12-10.
Trailing 14-11, it was BSU's turn to make a run, as the Cardinals used kills from Hartley and Imwalle, followed by a Nelson solo block, to tie the score at 14. A Lewis error and another Imwalle kill gave BSU the lead two plays later (16-14) and led to a Flyers timeout.
BSU extended its lead to three at 19-16 on a Spadavecchio kill and reached set point at 24-20 on a Lewis attack error. The Flyers posted the next two points, only to have a block assist from Nelson and Imwalle end the set at 25-22 and even the match at two games apiece.
The teams traded the first six points of the deciding fifth frame before a three-point run capped by an ace from Lewis' Michael Adams led to a Ball State timeout. The Flyers extended their lead to 8-4 at the court switch after a BSU attack error.
A Flyers' block on the next rally forced the Cardinals to use their second timeout trailing 9-4. Ball State would not be able to recover from the early hole, dropping the set 15-10.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Saturday, when it travels up I-69 to battle in-state rival IPFW in a 7 p.m. MIVA battle at the Gates Sports Center.