CHICAGO - The No. 9 Ball State men’s volleyball team dropped a four-set match (25-16, 25-18, 18-25, 25-21) in the MIVA Semifinals to the No. 12 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers Wednesday evening at Gentile Arena. Seniors Jamion Hartley and Greg Herceg led in kills for the Cardinals with 11 and nine kills.
The Cardinals finish the season with a 21-6 record while the Ramblers improve to 21-9.
Hartley had 11 kills to go with a solo block, three assisted blocks and two digs. Herceg had nine kills, two service aces and four assisted blocks. Matt Leske had seven kills to go with seven assisted blocks and a service ace. His counterpart Kevin Owens had three kills, three solo blocks and four assisted blocks.
Ball State won the blocking battle 17-11, while Loyola managed to get the upper hand in kills (48-35), digs (40-31),
The first set went back and forth early on, but Ball State was not able to withstand Loyola’s .500 (15-4-22) attack percentage. The Cardinals managed .045 (6-5-22) in the first set and was only able to muster two digs. Both teams struggled early behind the service line with the Ramblers collected five service errors and the Cardinals getting three.
Ball State got its first lead of the match in set two and lead 12-10 before Loyola was able to mount another run. Leske was able to knock in four kills on the set, but the Cardinals did not vastly improve its hitting percentage at .062 (12-10-32) in the second set. Loyola hit .33 (12-4-24) and got six team blocks to Ball State’s two.
The Cardinals changed their tune coming out of intermission. Ball State hit .320 (11-3-25) in the third set and kept Loyola to a -.033 clip (9-10-30). Hartley knocked in five kills without making an attack error and Herceg added four more kills. Herceg and Rouse were also able to get under three digs.
Ball State was down early in the fourth set but managed to make things interesting down the stretch. The Cardinals faced a 9-1 deficit early on and was forced to burn its second timeout of the set. Graham McIlvaine was behind the service line during Ball State’s late 7-0 run to get within two, 23-21. A Cardinal attack error and Rambler block allowed Loyola to advance to the MIVA Championships against Lewis.
Smalzer led Loyola with 16 kills while Cody Caldwell and Thomas Jaeschke added nine and eight kills.
You can keep track of the team on Twitter at @BallStateMVB or on Facebook on “Ball State Men’s Volleyball”.