CHICAGO, Ill. - - Despite a dominating 25-11 first game victory, the Ball State men's volleyball team could not shake the ghosts of Loyola's Alumni Gym, suffering a 3-2 (11-25, 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 16-14) Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association setback to the 12th-ranked Ramblers Friday evening in its last regular season match in building.
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 16-10 (6-5 MIVA) and have lost 16-straight matches on Loyola's home floor. BSU's last win in the gym came Jan. 18, 1997. Loyola will be moving to the Gentile Center for the 2012 season.
The Ramblers improve to 18-6 (8-2 MIVA) with the win and secure the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MIVA Tournament.
The Cardinals remain in the lead for the No. 3 seed with their 6-5 league mark after IPFW (5-6 MIVA) scored a 3-1 (27-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23) upset at No. 14 Lewis (5-5 MIVA) Friday evening.
In Friday's loss at Loyola, redshirt sophomore opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) paced the Ball State attack with a season-high 17 kills while hitting for a .303 (17-7-33) rate of success. He also collected five total blocks and four digs.
Sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) chipped in 15 kills, seven digs and three blocks, while senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) added 10 kills and eight total blocks.
For the match, the Cardinals dominated the Ramblers at the net, holding a 19.5 to 9.5 advantage in team blocks. Senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) paced all players with a match-best and season-high nine total blocks.
As a tem, the Cardinals also held a .315 (60-20-127) to .259 (68-32-139) hitting advantage, with freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) handing out 44 assists to go along with six digs, six blocks and a pair of kills.
Loyola's Joseph Smalzer led all players with a match-high 21 kills, while Mike Bunting added 16 and Eric Daliege posted 10. Smalzer also earned a match-high 10 digs, as Loyola held a 38 to 33 lead in that stat category.
The teams traded the first eight points of the opening game, before an 8-1 run by the Cardinals forced Loyola to use both of its timeouts. Senior outside attacker Marcus Imwalle (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local H.S.) led BSU in the run with three kills and a service ace, helping push the score to 12-5.
Ball State claimed its first 10-point lead at 16-6 after a pair of blocks and a Loyola attack error, before winning the game 25-11 on a Hartley kill. The Cardinals completed the opening game with a .625 (15-0-24) hitting mark led by five kills and a .714 (5-0-7) rate of success from Hartley and four kills and a .800 (4-0-5) hitting effort from Imwalle.
Game two started with another 4-4 tie, before a 3-1 run gave the hosts an 8-5 edge. Trailing 10-8, a setter dump from McIlvaine and a blast from Nelson knotted the score at 10. A attack error on the next rally gave the Cardinals an 11-10 lead and force the Ramblers' first timeout. BSU maintained the one-point advantage at 13-12 after a Nelson ace, only to see the hosts rattle off the next four points causing to a Ball State timeout at 16-13.
The Ramblers added the next two points, extending their advantage to five points at 18-13. Ball State followed with the next two markers, only to have Loyola respond with two of their own, forcing BSU's second minute break at 20-15. Loyola went on to win the game 25-20 on a kill from Bunting.
Loyola broke open an 8-8 tie in the third frame with a pair of kills surrounding a block to pull ahead 11-8. Ball State used the block to rally back, tying the game at 14-14 after three Nelson blocks (including a solo stuff) over four plays. An ace from Wrather on the next play gave BSU a 15-14 edge and led to a Ramblers timeout.
The hosts rallied after the break, scoring five of the next seven points forcing Ball State's first timeout with the guests trailing 19-17. With BSU trailing 21-18, a kill and block from Hartley helped Ball State pull within one at 21-20, while a Loyola attack error tied the score at 21.
The Ramblers reached game-point at 24-23, only to have an attack error keep the Cardinals alive at 24-24. Unfortunately, a kill from Smalzer and a Loyola triple block gave the hosts the 26-24 third game victory.
With the score of the fourth frame tied at 6-6, two Loyola miscues surrounding a Hartley kill gave BSU a 9-6 lead as the Ramblers used their first timeout. Thanks in part to three kills from Smalzer, the hosts battled back to tie the score at 11-11.
The score remained deadlocked at the 20-20 mark before a kill from LU's Daliege gave the hosts a 21-20 advantage and led to Ball State's first timeout. A Loyola service error followed, knotting the score at 21-21. A kill from Smalzer and a setter dump from Mike Huntz gave the Ramblers a 23-21 lead moments later, causing Ball State's second timeout.
A kill from Gasparovic kept the Cardinals alive, while a Ramblers attack error tied the score for a 15th time in the game at 23-23. A kill from Steve Thompson gave the Ramblers match-point at 24-23, only to have a kill from senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) tie the score at 24-24.
Loyola had two more chances at match-point, only to have BSU rally back and tie the score both times. With the frame knotted at 26-26, a block assists from Nelson and McIlvaine gave Ball State its first set point at 27-26. A kill from Nelson on the next play allowed the Cardinals to win the game 28-26 and even the match at two games apiece.
With the score of the fifth frame tied at 2-2, a solo block from Gasparovic and a back row kill from Wrather gave BSU a 4-2 lead in the game. The lead remained two, at 5-3, before three kills from Hartley over the next four rallies gave Ball State an 8-4 advantage at the court switch.
After a Nelson kill pushed the score to 9-5, a BSU attack error and an ace from LU's Kyle Exline cut the lead and half, at 9-7, forcing Ball State's first timeout. The lead remained two at 11-9, only to see Loyola score the next three points to pull ahead 12-11. A Meyer kill after BSU's second timeout tied the score at 12-12, and the teams played to a 13-13 stalemate.
A pair of setter dumps by Exline gave Loyola two match points, at 14-13 and 15-14, while a solo block from Thompson ended the game at 16-14 and the match at 3-2.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Saturday, when it hosts in-state and MIVA rival IPFW in a 7:30 p.m. first serve at Worthen Arena. Admission to the match is free.