GAFFNEY, S.C. - - Behind a career-high 15 kills from freshman outside attacker Shane Witmer (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North), the Ball State men's volleyball team (4-2) recovered from a first set loss to score a 3-1 (23-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-17) victory at Limestone College (3-2) Friday evening.
Witmer, who earned his first collegiate start versus Sacred Heart last week, continued his solid play in his debut season pacing all players with 15 kills in Friday's win over the Saints. He also had the best hitting night of his young career, connecting for a .333 (15-5-30) hitting mark over the four sets. Defensively, Witmer added three digs and a pair of blocks.
Redshirt junior Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago) also continued his strong play in the match, racking up 14 kills to go along with a career-high nine digs and a pair of service aces.
Sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) led the Ball State offense to a .250 (50-21-116) hitting mark for the night, passing out 37 assists, while collecting seven digs and going .500 (3-0-6) from the attack line himself. He also served up a career-high four service aces.
In the backcourt, Ball State sophomore libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral) added a match-best 10 digs.
Scott Warren paced the Limestone attack with 11 kills, while Kevin Hart added nine. James Dorr collected a team-best seven digs.
The Ball State defense limited the Saints offense to a .103 (40-28-116) rate of success for the match, while holding a 38-29 edge in digs and a 8-7 lead in blocks. BSU also served up a seven aces compared to one for LC.
With Ball State holding a 14-8 lead in the opening set, Limestone rattled off the next six points to tie the score at 14. From there, the teams battled to a 21-21 stalemate before a BSU service error and an ace from Hart helped the hosts secure four of the final six points to win the frame 25-23.
BSU responded to the loss by dominating the second set, pulling ahead 8-1 and never looking back. The Cardinals won the game 25-11 on one of McIlvaine's career-high four aces.
The third set was a hard-fought battle, with the teams playing to a 19-19 tie. However, back-to-back kills from redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park) and junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest) gave BSU a 21-19 lead in the momentum. Witmer would eventually provide the frame-winning kill at 25-20.
Limestone kept within one point at the 16-15 mark of the fourth game, only to see BSU rattle off the next six points to pull ahead 22-15. A Hartley kill gave BSU match-point four rallies later, while McIlvaine's fourth ace of the night ended the set at 25-17 and the match at 3-1.
The Ball State men's volleyball team will have a quick turnaround, as it travels to Misenheimer, N.C., for a 1:30 p.m. first serve versus Pfeiffer Saturday.