No. 13 Ball State Walls Off IPFW

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - - The 13th-ranked Ball State men's volleyball team collected a season-high 21.5 total blocks on their way to a 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-18) sweep of in-state and Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association rival IPFW Saturday evening at the Gates Sports Center.

   With the win, Ball State improves to 6-4 (1-1 MIVA) on the year. IPFW falls to 6-5 (0-3 MIVA) with the loss.

   Leading the charge at the net for the Cardinals was senior middle blocker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) with a career-high 10 block assists. Nelson also led all attackers with a .750 (6-0-8) hitting mark.

   Sophomore right side attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio./St. Ignatius H.S.) also had a career night on the block with career-highs of two solo blocks, six block assists and eight total blocks. Herceg also led the Cardinals with seven kills while hitting .353 (7-1-17).

   Senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) and freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) each collected a career-high six total blocks, while senior middle blocker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) added a season-high seven block assists.

   In the backcourt, redshirt junior Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) led Ball State with seven digs, while adding three block assists at the net.

   Offensively, Ball State finished the night with a .319 (32-9-72) attacking mark, while limiting the Mastodons to a .115 (38-27-96) rate of success. BSU also finished the night with a 21.5 to 2 advantage in blocks.

   Ivan Matos led IPFW with a match-best 12 kills, while Darryl Shank added 11. Eddie Rivera added a team-best seven digs.

   The Cardinals quickly found themselves in a 5-1 hole to open the first set, before a kill and block assist from Nelson helped BSU battle back within one at 6-5. With BSU trailing 11-9, a kill and block assist from Herceg tied the score at 11.

   Moments later, a Herceg ace would give BSU its first lead of the night at 13-12. The advantage was short-lived, however, as IPFW rattled off seven of the next eight points to pull ahead 19-14. The margin remained five at the 21-16 mark, before BSU responded with the next five points and tied the score at 21 on a block from Gasparovic and Spadavecchio.

   With Ball State trailing 23-22, back-to-back Cardinals blocks gave the guests set point at 24-23. While a kill from Rivera kept IPFW alive, a kill and block assist for Ball State's Meyer allowed Ball State to complete the opening-set comeback at 26-24.

   The teams battled to an 11-11 stalemate to open the second frame before a kill and solo block from Herceg, surrounding a Gasparovic ace, forced an IPFW timeout with BSU leading 14-11. With the lead cut to two, at 18-16, a quick attack by McIlvaine, followed by another Herceg kill and an IPFW error, extended the Ball State advantage to five at 21-16.

   Following their second timeout of the set, IPFW posted the next three points to draw back within two at 21-19. A kill from Spadavecchio stopped the Mastodons' run, while a solo block from Meyer gave BSU set-point a few rallies later at 24-20. Meyer went on to record the frame-winning kill at 25-21.

   With the score knotted at four to open the third game, a kill from Nelson and back-to-back BSU triple blocks gave the Cardinals the momentum and a 7-4 edge. IPFW would get the next point, only to have BSU rattle off the next six to pull ahead 13-5.

  Ball State extended its lead to 10 points, at 19-9, on the second of back-to-back block assists from Herceg and Gaspaorivc. BSU reached match-point at the 24-14 mark, before winning the frame 25-18 on a blast through the middle.

   The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Friday, when it hosts league-leading and sixth-ranked Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena. Admission to the match is free for all fans.

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