MUNICE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s volleyball team went the distance to earn a thrilling 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12) win over the Lindenwood Lions at Worthen Arena Saturday evening. With the win, the Cardinals move to a spotless 7-0 on the season and 2-0 in MIVA play.
Ball State was led offensively by its middle attackers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske who combined for 14 and 10 kills respectively. Owens had a .650 clip (14-1-20), while Leske hit at .562 (10-1-16). Owens’ 14 kills was a season high.
Senior outside attacker Jamion Hartley came off the bench for the Cardinals and registered eight kills, an assisted block and three solo blocks. Fellow right side attacker Greg Herceg had eight kills and a solo block.
Senior setter Dan Wichmann had 50 assists to go with seven digs, a solo block and two assisted blocks. Sophomore outside attacker Shane Witmer passed a career-high 16 digs to go with seven kills and three service aces. Freshman outside attacker Jack Lesure also tallied seven kills.
Witmer served seven straight points for the Cardinals early in the first set to take an 8-2 lead. The Lions served five straight points to get as close as two (12-10). Lesure led the Cardinals with four kills, while Owens and Witmer added three. Witmer also had two service aces in the set. Ball State outhit Lindenwood in the first set .321 (13-4-28) to -.036 (8-9-28).
The second set was close throughout with 21 ties and 10 lead changes. Lindenwood hit .387 (16-4-31) while Ball State fell off a bit from the first set at .212 (13-6-33). Witmer, Herceg and Lesure added three kills in the frame.
Hartley made an impact early in the third set connecting with Leske for an assisted block and registering two solo blocks. The Cardinals held the advantage in blocks 4-1 and hit .375 (10-1-24) while the Lions .195 (18-10-41).
Hartley exploded in the fourth set with six kills, but it was not enough as BSU hit .167 (13-8-30) in the frame to LU’s .286 (15-5-35). The Lions came back to tie the set at 13 before Tim Huizinga went on to serve five straight points. The Cardinals mounted an attack to come back to tie the score at 20 before both teams tied at 21, 22 and 23. An attack error by Ball State and a kill by Lindenwood gave the Lions the fourth set.
The decisive fifth set saw both teams trade points after a Lion attack error and a Cardinal service error. Two Lindenwood attack errors forced them to call a timeout with Ball State up 7-4. The Cardinals called a timeout of their own after an attack error and the Lions within one point, 9-8. Herceg went up to serve and an assisted block by Wichmann and Owens cost Lindenwood another timeout as Ball State was up 12-9. Consecutive attack errors brought the Lions to within one point, but the match was put away by an Owens kill and a Witmer service ace.
The Cardinals outhit the Lions .236 (56-23-140) to .187 (64-35-155). Lindenwood held the advantage in blocks (10.5-9.5), digs (52-46), service aces (6-3) and kills (64-56). Ball State made 23 attack errors and eight service errors, while Lindenwood had 35 attack errors and 16 service errors.
The Lions were led by Colin Hackworth who had a match-high 20 kills. Scott Siwicki had six assisted blocks while Cory Buehler passed a match-high 17 digs. The Lions fall to 1-4 on the year and 1-3 in league action.
The Cardinals are back in action next weekend when it hosts Grand Canyon for tilts on Saturday and Sunday. 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 website for Ball State Athletics.