MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 15 Ball State men’s volleyball team earned its 12th-straight win Saturday evening on Senior Night over No. 11 Loyola (25-23, 21-25, 27-25, 25-19). With the win, the Cardinals locked up the No. 3 seed in the MIVA Quarterfinals.
With the win the Cardinals move to 20-5 on the year and 9-5 in MIVA action. The 12-match winning streak is the longest streak Ball State has been on since 1982. The Ramblers drop to 19-9 on the season and 10-4 in league play.
Seniors Jamion Hartley and Greg Herceg led the way for the Cardinals with 16 and 10 kills. Junior setter Graham McIlvaine tied his career high in kills with six on the night. McIlvaine added 27 assists and eight digs.
Junior middle hitter Kevin Owens led the block for the Cardinals with three solo blocks and four assisted blocks to go with his five kills. His partner Matt Leske added a solo block and three assisted blocks. Senior libero Tommy Rouse got under 12 digs and was two assists shy of a double-double with eight.
Loyola came out and took an early lead in the first set 10-7. From there Ball State was able to mount an 8-3 run to take the 15-13 lead heading into the media timeout. Loyola would get as close as 17-16 before Ball State was able to close out the set. Dan Wichmann served three points for the Cardinals to get the 22-18 lead. Loyola attack errors and kills from Herceg and McIlvaine would wrap up the set for Ball State.
McIlvaine’s fifth kill of the night forced Loyola to call an early timeout with Ball State up 8-6 in the first set. Cardinal attack errors caused BSU to call a timeout with the Ramblers up 16-15. Ball State would tie the set two more times down the stretch, but Loyola ended on a 4-1 run to take the second set 25-21.
The third set saw 15 ties and six lead changes. Ball State was facing set point, 24-22, when Loyola’s Joseph Smalzer and Cody Caldwell registered back-to-back kills to tie the match at 24-all. Smalzer would follow up with an attack error and then a kill to bring the score to 25-all. The set would end off a Hartley kill Loyola attack error.
The fourth set started much the same way as the third with nine lead changes before the media timeout. Ball State would lead 15-13 heading into the media timeout and Loyola called a timeout two points later after another Hartley kill and Rambler attack error. The Ramblers would call their final timeout of the set with Ball State up 19-14 after Hartley and Witmer kills. The Cardinals took home the match off a Loyola attack error.
Ball State held the advantage in total team blocks, 11-4, as well as hitting percentage, .232 (43-17-112) to .193 (58-32-135).
The Ramblers were led by Joseph Smalzer and Thomas Jaeschke with 15 and 14 kills.
Ball State will host No. 6 seed and I-69 rival IPFW Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. You can keep track of the team on Twitter at @BallStateMVB or on Facebook at “Ball State Men’s Volleyball”.