MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s volleyball team battled through another five-set thriller to remain undefeated after taking down Grand Canyon (25-22, 25-12, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12) Saturday afternoon at Worthen Arena. Senior outside attacker Greg Herceg led the Cardinals’ offense with a career-high 25 kills.
With the win Ball State moves to a spotless 8-0 on the season and 3-0 in MIVA play, while Grand Canyon falls to 4-6 and 0-3 in league action.
Herceg’s career-high 25 kills came off a .281 hitting percentage (25-9-57). The senior tallied a double-double after getting under a season-high 12 digs. Junior middle attacker Matt Leske tied his career-high in assisted blocks at eight and added two solo blocks. Leske also registered seven kills and a career-high four digs.
Senior setter Dan Wichmann tallied a career-high seven assisted blocks to go with 47 assists, three kills and a season-high eight digs. Libero Tommy Rouse got under a career-high tying 18 digs. Herceg, Shane Witmer and Urim Demirovski all tallied two service aces.
The Cardinals were in control for much of the first set with Herceg leading the charge with six kills. Witmer knocked in his two service aces in the set. Ball State was outhit by Grand Canyon .235 (12-4-34) to .200 (14-7-35) in the frame and the ‘Lopes got 3.5 blocks to the Cardinals’ one total block.
The Cardinal’s defense picked up in the second set with the team nabbing nine total blocks. Demirovski rattled off six straight points and Wichmann took the set home serving the final five points. Leske and Wichmann added five assisted blocks in the set and Herceg tallied five kills.
The third set saw GCU hit at .269 (10-3-26) to BSU’s .152 clip (12-7-33). The ‘Lopes benefited from four Cardinal service errors and out-blocked BSU 3.5-2.0. Grand Canyon started the match going ion a 9-3 run and Ball State was not able to recover.
The fourth set saw 11 ties and five lead changes. Herceg served three crucial points down the stretch to bring the cardinals to within two, 24-22. Kevin Owens followed up with a kill to bring Ball State to within one, but Grand Canyon’s Ben Ponnet sealed the set with a kill.
Ball State jumped to a 6-3 lead in the deciding set off three-straight kills from Herceg to force a Grand Canyon timeout. The ‘Lopes would go on to tie the match four times down the stretch. A GCU service error and attack error forced a timeout as BSU was up 12-10. A kill by Witmer and Herceg brought the set to 14-11 in BSU’s favor. A Cardinal attack error gave the ‘Lopes life, but a kill from Herceg sealed the set and the match for Ball State.
The ‘Lopes were led by the trio of Ryan Mather, Ben Ponnet and Christian Ward who had 12, 11 and 10 kills respectively.
The teams will square off Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Worthen Arena. You can keep track of the team on Twitter at @BallStateMVB or on Facebook at “Ball State Men’s Volleyball”. As always, ballstatesports.com is the official site of Ball State Athletics.