BRISTOL, TENN. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team earned a hard-fought 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 26-24) victory over King College Saturday evening at the King College Student Center in Bristol, Tenn.
"This is a really difficult weekend I have scheduled for our team," said Ball State head coach Joel Walton. "With a critical league match Friday, and two more matches Saturday and Sunday. At this point, I am happy the team has responded and we are now 2-0 on the weekend. Hopefully we can find some energy and focus tomorrow and come out of this difficult stretch with three wins."
With tonight's win, the Cardinals improved to 14-8 on the year, while the Tornado fell to 8-6 with the loss.
"I have to give credit to King College," added Walton. "The have improved a great deal since the one match we had video of them from January. I am pleased to see the new programs in the Conference Carolina's giving boys opportunities to play and helping them learn our sport."
For the second-straight night sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) led the Ball State attack with 16 kills. He also chipped in four digs and a pair of blocks.
Senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) added seven kills for BSU, while fellow senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) scored five kills and a match-high six total blocks, including a career-high tying five solo stuffs.
Redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) posted a team-best .455 hitting mark, with five kills on 11 swings with no errors.
Redshirt freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral) collected a team-high 11 digs from the back row.
James Friddle led the King College attack with 15 kills, including several big points in the third and fourth frames. Morris Cephas tallied a match-best 13 digs for the Tornado, helping them out-dig BSU 46 to 45 for the match.
Ball State held a decisive .223 (51-22-130) to .077 (47-36-142) advantage from the attack line, while out-blocking King 15.0 to 10.0.
The Tornado stormed out of the gate, building a 4-1 lead behind kills from three different players and a Joel Salva ace. King upped its lead to four points, at 8-4, thanks to a kill from Alex Oliveria. A huge solo block from sophomore opposite attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) surrounded by a pair of KC errors helped BSU battle back within one at 8-7.
King College answered back with six of the next seven points to pull ahead 14-8. Once again the Cardinals fought back, as kills from Gasparovic and Wrather helped cut the gap to one at 15-14. The Tornado made one more run, posting the next three points to reclaim a four-point edge at 18-14.
From there it was all Ball State, however, as the Cardinals scored 11 of the final 14 points to win the game 25-21. Gasparovic provided a pair of kills in the run, including the frame-winner.
The teams played to a 6-6 tie to open the second game, before a King attack error and a Spadavecchio block gave BSU a slim 8-6 lead. Ball State went on to extended the advantage to five points at 18-13 mark, before a 5-1 run from King brought the hosts within one at 19-18.
Following a Ball State timeout, an ace from Jenson Lavallee evened the score at 19-19. Kills from Wrather and Nelson followed, giving BSU the momentum and a 21-19 edge. A solo block from Nelson on the next play led to a King timeout at 22-19. Ball State went on to add the final three points to win the game 25-19 on a Wrather blast to the floor.
Two kills and a solo block from redshirt sophomore Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) gave Ball State the first three points in the third game, while a Wrather marker extended the lead to 4-0. The Cardinals maintained a three-point lead at the 13-10 mark, only to see King post a 4-0 run to pull ahead 14-13.
Hartley answered with another kill to even the score at 14-14, and from there the teams battled to a 23-23 stalemate. A Tornado attack error gave BSU match-point at 24-23, however a kill from Friddle kept the hosts alive. Two Ball State attack errors followed, allowing the hosts to claim a 26-24 win and extend the match to a fourth set.
Despite two early kills from Wrather, a pair of markers from Friddle helped King pull out to a 6-3 lead and force an early Ball State timeout. Three straight Tornado errors allowed BSU to tie the score at 6-6, but the hosts would regain control at 10-7.
King went on to double their lead at the 16-10 mark, only to see BSU respond with the next four points, making the score 16-14. Moments later a Nelson kill and a Spadavecchio block brought BSU within one at 17-16. The teams traded the next four points before a King attack error tied the score at 19-19.
With the score tied at 22-22, a Hartley kill and a King attack error gave BSU two more chances to win the match. Friddle followed with another pivotal kill to keep KC alive, while a BSU attack error tied the frame at 24-24. Wrather broke the tie with his match-high 16th kill of the night, while a King attack error allowed the Cardinals to escape with a 26-24 game win and a 3-1 match victory.
The Ball State men's volleyball team concludes its three-match weekend Sunday, with a 3 p.m. first serve versus Lees McRae at King College's Student Center.