MUNCIE, Ind. - The Ball State men's volleyball team heads to Chicago for two MIVA matches. BSU will take on Lewis on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. (ET) and Loyola on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. (ET).
Ball State (8-3, 3-3 MIVA) most recently dropped contests to IPFW and nationally-ranked Ohio State. Sophomore outside hitter Matt Sutherland and junior setter Graham McIlvaine registered double-doubles last weekend.
The Cardinals boast the best blocking in the nation with a 3.22 blocks per set average. The blocking department is headed up by middle blockers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske who rank first and third in the country in blocks per set with averages of 1.51 and 1.40 respectively. Additionally, Owens has the fourt-best hitting percentage across Division I-II Men's Volleyball at .374 (93-25-182).
Ball State is second in the country in digs per set at 11.3 and junior libero Tommy Rouse gets under 3.2 digs per set which is good for second in the nation. The Cardinals are fifth in the country in kills per set (12.91) and sixth in assists per set (12.14)/ Senior outside hitter Greg Herceg is fifth in the nation in kills per set with an average of 4.16.
The No. 12 Flyers are 9-5 on the year and a spotless 5-0 in the MIVA. Lewis is coming off wins over Quincy (3-0) and Loyola (3-1). Geoff Powell heads up the attack with a 3.67 kills per set average and has the most digs on the team with 87 on the season. James Hofmann knocks down 1.31 blocks per set while Jay Petty has 17 aces on the year for a 0.34 aces per set average.
The Cardinals hold a 28-19 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1994. Lewis won both matches last season and Ball State last earned a victory in Romeoville, Ill., on Apr. 6, 2010. The Flyers won the last meeting 3-1 on Apr. 6, 2012.
The Rambers, who are receiving votes in the latest AVCA DI-II Coaches Poll, are 9-6 on the year and 2-1 in league action. Loyola is led offensively by Joseph Smalzer who registers 3.76 kills per set, which is second in the MIVA. Smalzer is also second in the league with his 0.63 aces per set average. Setter Diego Rodriguez is third in the conference in assists at 10.40 assists per set.
Loyola leads the all-time series 22-18, including a 17-3 mark in Chicago. The Cardinals last won in Chicago on Apr. 17, 1999. The Ramblers won the most recent meeting 3-1 on Mar. 20, 2012.
You can keep track of the team on Twitter at @BallStateMVB or on Facebook at "Ball State Men's Volleyball".