PHOENIX, Ariz. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team suffered a 3-0 (25-19, 28-26, 25-23) setback to Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association leader Grand Canyon Friday evening at GCU Arena.
Despite holding a .200 (39-21-90) to .170 (34-18-94) hitting advantage in the contest, the Cardinals fell to 10-7 (2-4 MIVA) with the loss, while the Antelopes climbed to 12-8 (3-0 MIVA).
BSU junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest) paced all attackers with 12 kills, while adding a team-best eight digs.
Redshirt junior opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago) added eight kills and a team-best .429 (8-2-14) hitting mark.
Ben Ponnet led the Grand Canyon attack with nine kills, while Robbie Brannick added a match-high 10 digs.
Ball State did hold a 10-6 edge in team blocks, led by redshirt sophomore Matt Leske's (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park) four total blocks (two solo and two assists).
With Ball State leading 7-5 in the opening set, a kill and ace from Ponnet got the 'Lopes rolling as they rattled off six of the next seven points to take an 11-8 lead. GCU would extend the lead to six points, at 19-13, only to see BSU battle back within three at 20-17. Unfortunately, the comeback fell shorts at the hosts scored the next three points and went on to win the frame 25-19 on a Ponnet marker.
The teams played to an 18-18 tie in the second set, only to see a 3-0 run give GCU an advantage. Ball State battled back to tie the score at 24-24 and reached set-point off a kill from Wrather at 26-25. Following a Grand Canyon timeout, the hosts collected the next three points to win the set 28-26.
BSU looked poised to at least extend the match with a 20-16 lead in the third frame. However, the league leaders responded with the next four points to tie the score at 20. GCU took its first lead of the game at 22-21 on a BSU attack error, before winning the set 25-23 and the match 3-0 on a Chris Lockwood kill.
The Cardinals and 'Lopes will square off again at 8 p.m. (ET)/6 p.m. (MST) Saturday in a pivotal MIVA match-up for Ball State.