LORETTO, Pa. - - The Ball State (12-8) men's volleyball team ended its two-match tour through the state of Pennsylvania with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-20) sweep of Saint Francis (8-10) Saturday evening at DeGol Arena.
In the victory, sophomore opposite attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) paced all played with a match-high nine kills, while adding eight digs and a .238 (9-4-21) hitting mark. He also served up an ace.
Senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) also had a solid night from the attack line, blasting seven kills and hitting .556 (7-2-9). He also tallied three total blocks.
Fellow senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) added six kills, while leading the Cardinals with five blocks (one solo and four assists) and adding a .625 (6-1-8) hitting mark.
In the backcourt, redshirt freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) tied for match-high honors with nine digs, while freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) led the Ball State offense to a .324 (37-13-74) hitting mark for the contest.
On defense, the Cardinals limited the Red Flash to a .156 (34-20-90) rate of success, with Logan Patterson recording a team-high eight kills. Ryan Williams tied for match-high honors with nine digs, while John Skarupa collected a match-best six total blocks (one solo and five assists).
In addition to out-hitting SFU, the Cardinals held a 31 to 20 lead in digs and an eight to 7.5 edge in team blocks. BSU also out-aced Saint Francis four to two.
The Red Flash played to a 9-5 lead in the opening game before a pair of errors and a kill from sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) kill brought BSU back within one at 9-8. The hosts used a kill and a pair of blocks to tally the next three points, regaining a four-point edge at 12-8.
Four more SFU errors helped the Cardinals tie the score at 15, while a block from senior outside hitter Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) and Gasparovic gave BSU its first lead since the opening point at 17-16. McIlvaine followed with an ace, extending the lead to two at 18-16. Saint Frances cut the BSU advantage to one at 20-19, only to see the Cardinals post the next three points to take control of the game. BSU went on to win the frame 25-21 on a Meyer kill.
With BSU holding a slim 9-8 lead in the second stanza, back-to-back Gasparovic kills followed by a blast from Herceg, helped the visitors pull head by four points at 12-8. The Red Flash answered with the next three points, making the score 12-11.
The gap remained one at 16-15, before a kill from Nelson and a pair of blocks and a kill from Gasparovic forced a SFU timeout at 20-15. From there, the Cardinals cruised to a 25-19 second-set win, completing the victory thanks to a kill from redshirt sophomore opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.)
Ball State looked poised to run away with the third game, scoring five of the first six points. However, the hosts battled back to tie the score at 9-9. Saint Francis took a brief lead at the 19-18 mark thanks to a BSU attack error, causing the Cardinals to call a timeout.
Nelson blasted a kill out of the break, leading a 5-0 run for the team from Muncie. Two rallies later, another Nelson kill gave BSU match-point at 24-20, while a SFU attack error ended the set at 25-20 and the match at 3-0.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns home for a brief one-match home stand Friday, when it hosts Lewis in a pivotal Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association match starting at 7:30 p.m.