MUNCIE, Ind. - The No. 13 Ball State men’s volleyball team completed the season sweep of I-69 rival No. 12 IPFW Tuesday night with a 3-1 win (19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-23). Ball State ended the night with 10.5 total team blocks led by senior middle attacker Matt Leske’s two solo blocks and six assisted blocks. Three Cardinals tallied double-digit digs led by junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer’s 17.
With the win Ball State improves to 13-5 on the season and 5-2 in MIVA play while IPFW falls to 13-4 on the year and 4-3 in league action. The win is the sixth in a row for the Cardinals. The last time Ball State completed the season sweep of IPFW came in the 2011 season when Ball State took 3-0 and 3-1 wins.
Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski led the offense with 13 kills while junior outside attacker Shane Witmer added nine. Senior outside attacker Larry Wrather and senior middle attacker Kevin Owens each tallied seven while Leske registered six. Owens hit .500 on the night only committing one error on 12 swings.
Defensively, Vander Meer led Ball State with 17 digs while Wrather and Witmer got under 10 digs apiece. Witmer’s 10 digs matched his season-high set earlier this season in the first meeting with IPFW. The junior passed 33 balls without committing a reception error while Wrather passed 14 balls without an error.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine tallied 36 assists on the night and was one dig shy of a double-double with nine. McIlvaine also added three kills and two aces.
Leske headed up the blocking for Ball State with eight total blocks while Owens chipped in a solo block and an assisted block. Niemczewski added four blocks to go with his eight digs.
The Mastodons controlled the beginning of the first set jumping out to a 9-5 lead before the Cardinals called a timeout. Consecutive kills from McIlvaine and junior outside attacker Matt Sutherland cut the IPFW lead to 18-16 causing the Mastodons to call a timeout. IPFW managed four consecutive points off the serve of Eddie Rivera to take a 23-16 lead. Ball State would drop the set 25-19 after hitting .133 (9-5-30) for the set to IPFW’s .343 (17-5-35).
Ball State started the second set with a kill from Leske followed by an IPFW attack error. The score would remain close but three-straight points from the Cardinals would cause the Mastodons to call a timeout down 13-9. Ball State would continue to charge ahead in the set winning it 25-18 off three kills from Leske and Witmer and two from Niemczewski and Wrather. Ball State improved its hitting percentage from the first set and hit a .476 clip (12-2-21) to IPFW’s .031 (11-10-32).
The difference for the Cardinals in the third set proved to be its blocking as it had five and a half total team blocks to the Mastodons’ two. Niemczewski hit .429 for the set earning five kills off seven swings. IPFW had six service errors in the set coupled with eight attack errors. Ball State took the set 25-19.
Owens led the way for Ball State in the fourth set with five kills while Niemczewski added four. Vander Meer had seven digs on the set while Witmer added five to help the Ball State defense. The Cardinals jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead forcing the Mastodons to call a timeout. IPFW would come back going on an 8-4 run to cut the Ball State lead to one at 14-13. Consecutive kills from the Mastodons would tie the set at 15-all. The set would be tied four more times headed down the stretch including at 23-23. A kill from Owens gave the Cardinals a match point opportunity that led to a kill from Wrather.
The Cardinals outhit the Mastodons .240 (47-17-125) to .173 (54-27-156) and held the advantage in digs (55-54) and aces (4-1).
IPFW was led by Andrew Sellan who ended the night with a match-high 20 kills and 12 digs while Eddie Rivera added 13 kills. Omar Rivera tallied a double-double with 46 assists and 11 digs.
Ball State returns to action at Worthen Arena this weekend hosting Lees McCrea and Harvard on Saturday, Mar. 15 and Sunday, Mar. 16. The Lees McCrea match on Saturday will begin at 7:30 p.m. while the Harvard match on Sunday will begin at 4 p.m. Check ballstatesports.com for more news and information on Ball State men’s volleyball.