COLUMBUS, Ohio - - Despite a dominating third-game victory, the Ball State men's volleyball team could not overcome a two-game deficit in a 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 15-25, 25-22) loss at No. 4 Ohio State's St. John Arena Friday evening in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association play.
The loss snaps the Cardinals four-match winning streak and puts them at 10-7 (3-4 MIVA) for the year. The Buckeyes extended their NCAA-leading winning streak to 15 matches with the victory, improving to 15-2 (8-0 MIVA).
Senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) was Ball State's top attacker in the contest, recording a season-high 13 kills to go along with a .379 (13-2-29) hitting mark.
Senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) also had a solid night at the attack line, racking up nine kills and a team-best .412 (9-2-17) hitting percentage.
Also turning in strong efforts for the Cardinals were redshirt sophomore opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) and sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) with nine and eight kills, respectively.
In the backcourt, redshirt freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) led all players with a match-high 12 digs. At the net, Nelson and Hartley tied for match-high honors with six total blocks apiece.
As a team, the Cardinals finished the match with a .163 (53-32-129) attack percentage, while the Buckeyes hit .203 (47-22-123). BSU out-dug OSU 42 to 36 and held a 14.5 to 13 advantage in blocks. BSU also out-aced the Buckeyes four to one.
With the team's top attacker Shawn Sangrey out of the lineup, Mik Berzins paced the OSU attack with 12 kills, while John Klanac added 10. Anthony Hock collected a team-best nine digs.
The teams played to a 14-14 tie in the opening game before a three-point run gave the Buckeyes a little momentum. Kills from redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) and sophomore opposite attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) helped the Cardinals rally back within one at 17-16. The lead remained one at the 19-18 mark, but OSU would score the next five points and go on to win the game 25-21 on a Berzins kill.
Ball State pulled out to a 14-10 lead in the second set, thanks in part to three kills and a pair of block assists from Nelson. Unfortunately, Ohio State would battle back to tie the score at 16. The score remained knotted up at the 18-18 mark, before the Buckeyes posted the final seven points of the frame to win 25-18.
The Cardinals came out of the gate strong in the third game, pulling out to a 7-2 advantage. Moments later, kills from Meyer and Hartley extended the Ball State lead to eight at 12-4. The fourth-ranked Buckeyes would whittle the lead down to four, at the 14-10 mark, only to have a kill and ace from Meyer give the momentum back to the Cardinals.
With the score at 17-11, back-to-back kills from Wrather followed by three straight block assists from Nelson and Hartley removed any doubt about the outcome of the game. BSU went on to win the frame 25-15 on an OSU attack error.
The fourth game saw the teams battle to a 4-4 tie before a 9-5 run gave the hosts a four-point edge at 13-9. The Cardinals responded with a 6-0 run, including a kill and three block assists from senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.), to pull ahead 15-13. OSU tied the score with the next two points, and the teams went on to play to a 17-17 tie.
The Buckeyes looked poised to pull away at the end, scoring the next three points, but kills from Nelson and Wrather kept Ball State alive at 20-19. BSU remained within one point at the 23-22 mark, only to see a Klanac kill and an attack error end the game at 25-22 in favor of Ohio State.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Saturday night, as it travels from Columbus, Ohio, to Princeton, N.J., for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Princeton Tigers.