FORT WAYNE, Ind. - - After dropping the first two sets, the Ball State men's volleyball team rallied to win the third but could not hold the momentum in a 3-1 (25-21, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21) loss at IPFW's Gates Sports Center Saturday evening.
The Cardinals, which swept the first match in the battle of I-69 in Muncie back on Feb. 18, fall to 12-10 (4-7 MIVA) with the loss. IPFW climbs to 13-12 (5-5 MIVA) with the victory.
For the second consecutive night, junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest) paced the Ball State offense this time tagging 14 kills. He also turned in a solid effort at the net, racking up five total blocks including a solo stuff.
Junior opposite attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) also had a strong night offensively, blasting 11 kills, while redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park) continued his strong play at the net tying for match-high honors with six total blocks.
The Mastodon's Eddie Rivera led all players with 15 kills, while Ivan Matos blasted 13 and Ramon Burgos score 10.
As a team, IPFW held a .230 (55-26-126) to .186 (45-24-113) hitting edge in the contest, while out-digging BSU 37-36. Both teams finished the match with 10 total blocks.
With Ball State trailing 21-20 in the opening set, the Mastodons rattled off the next three points to reach set-point at 24-20. A kill from sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) kept the guests alive for one more rally, but a Matos kill followed giving IPFW a 25-21 opening set win.
In another tight battle, the teams played to a 19-19 stalemate in the second set. A 5-3 run from the Cardinals gave BSU two changes to close out the set, but IPFW would rally back and tie the score at 24. A Mastodons block gave the hosts their first set-point of the frame, but a kill from freshman outside attacker Shane Witmer (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) kept the Cardinals alive.
Unfortunately, kills from Burgos and Matos on the next two rallies allowed the Mastodons to pull out the game 27-25.
With the third set tied at 11, a pair of IPFW errors gave Ball State some much-needed momentum. The Cardinals built upon the energy and turned it into an 18-15 advantage thanks to another Mastodons miscue. From there, Ball State reached set-point at 24-21 on a kill from Wrather and won the frame 25-21 on another IPFW error.
The Cardinals looked poised to force a deciding fifth set when a kill from Herceg gave them a 19-18 lead. However, the Mastodons responded with the next five points and would go on to win the set 25-21 and the match 3-1
The Ball State men's volleyball team closes out the MIVA portion of its 2012 season next Friday, when it travels to Quincy for a 7 p.m. (CT) first serve. BSU closes the regular season the following night with a 7 p.m. (CT) non-conference battle at Lindenwood.