Ball State Falls to No. 13 Loyola, 3-1

MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State men’s volleyball team suffered its second Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association loss in as many days with a 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18) setback to No. 13 Loyola Saturday evening at Worthen Arena.

   With the loss, the Cardinals record evens out at 6-6 on the year, including a 1-3 mark in MIVA action. The Ramblers improve to 9-3 (4-0 MIVA) with the victory.

   "I thought serving and passing were a big part of the match," said Ball State head coach Joel Walton. "Loyola's serving held up and our passing did not. We were playing from behind a lot of the match which put more pressure on our attackers to put away high balls. Loyola served us really well in our own building and that is not something they typically do."

   Sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) paced the Cardinals for the second straight night with 14 kills, while adding five digs and four blocks (two solo and two assists).

   Senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) added eight kills and six blocks (three solo and three assists), while freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) collected a match-best 11 digs.

   Joseph Smalzer paced the Loyola attack with a match-high 19 kills, while Mike Bunting added 15. Smalzer also collected a team-high nine digs and a pair of service aces.

   As a team, the Ramblers limited the Cardinals to a .174 (44-24-115) rate of success on offense, while connecting for a .222 (52-26-117) clip on their side of the net. BSU held a 13-to-7 advantage in team blocks, while Loyola out-dug BSU 36-to-34 and out-aced Ball State 5-to-1.

   With Ball State trailing 3-1 in the opening set, a kill from redshirt junior Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) and a Loyola attack error evened the score at three. Unfortunately, a BSU service error, one of six in the set for the Cardinals, and a pair of Smalzer aces gave the Ramblers the lead for good.

   "We did not start very well in game one and Loyola worked their way out to a lead," said Walton about the first set. "Our offense in game one was okay, but the biggest stat was our six missed serves. We gave away too many opportunities to play some defense.”

   Loyola built a five-point edge at the 20-15 mark of the opening frame, only to see BSU fight back within one at 21-20. The Cardinals could not complete the comeback, however, as LUC scored four of the final five points to win the frame 25-21.

   The teams played to a 6-6 tie to open the second set before a pair of Wrather kills, surrounding a solo block from redshirt sophomore Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.), gave the Cardinals a 9-6 lead and the momentum. BSU pushed its advantage to five at the 13-8 mark thanks to a Spadavecchio kill, leading to LUC’s second timeout in the game.

   With BSU leading 17-12, back-to-back miscues from the Cardinals cut their edge to 17-14. A well-timed timeout from Ball State helped the Cardinals regain their momentum momentarily, as they played to a six-point lead at 22-16.

   The Ramblers would not go down without a fight, battling back within two, at 23-21, following a pair of BSU attack errors. After BSU’s second timeout, another hitting error helped Loyola pull within one at 23-22. A kill from BSU freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) stopped the guest’s momentum, while a block assist from senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) and sophomore right side attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) ended the game at 25-22.

   The third game was a back-and-forth battle early, as the teams played to an 18-18 stalemate. Three straight Loyola points helped the guests build a 21-18 edge, only to have a service error and a Nelson kill cut the gap to one and force a Ramblers timeout.  LUC responded with the first two points out of the break and went on to win the set 25-21.

   The teams played to an 11-11 deadlock in the fourth game, before a 5-1 Loyola run forced a Cardinals timeout trailing 16-12. BSU cut the edge to three, at 17-14, following a Hartley kill only to see back-to-back errors and a block give LUC a six-point lead at 20-14. The Ramblers went on to win the frame 25-18 on a Bunting service ace.

   The Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to Worthen Arena next weekend for a pair of league matches versus Quincy. The Friday and Saturday matches both start at 7:30 p.m.

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