MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State men’s volleyball team (1-1) most recently earned a sweep of the Sacred Heart Pioneers at home off the hot hand of sophomore Marcin Niemczewski who collected a career-high 15 kills and three service aces. Senior setter Graham McIlvaine is 100 assists away from putting his name seventh in Ball State history in career assists. Middle blockers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens have picked up where they left off in 2013. Currently, Leske has a 1.17 blocks per set average while Owens has a 1.00 blocks per set average.
Scouting Saint Francis
The Red Flash (0-0) open up its season this weekend hosting Ball State and IPFW. Saint Francis was recently picked to finish fifth in the EIVA according to its preseason coaches’ poll after finishing the 2013 campaign with a 12-15 overall record and 7-7 mark in conference action.
Saint Francis returns its two top offensive threats from the 2013 season in Logan Patterson and Colin Sherwin who combined for 579 kills last year. Patterson had 337 kills for a 3.74 kills per set average while Sherwin registered 242 kills for a 2.63 kills per set average. Setter Michael Krepp also returns for his senior season after collecting 716 assists in 2013. The top blocking threat for the Red Flash, Adamn Roche, graduated leaving Mark Kochan as the top blocker after finishing last year with a 1.27 blocks per set average.
Series with Saint Francis
Ball State holds a 12-4 record in the series against Saint Francis that dates back to 1994. The Cardinals have won the last two contest, including a 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 win at home last season on Jan. 12.
Scouting Penn State
The defending EIVA champion Nittany Lions (1-2) were picked as the preseason favorites in the EIVA for the 2014 campaign. Penn State returns all five starters from last season including brothers Peter and Aaron Russell. Aaron Russell was chosen to the 2014 Off the Block/Springbak Inc. Preseaon First Team All-America. Setter Taylor Hammond also received preseason love by being named to the Lloy Ball Award watch list.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a 1-2 finish at the Outrigger Invitational dropping contests to No. 7 UCLA and No. 14 Hawai’i before earning a 3-0 sweep of No. 12 Ohio State.
Series with Penn State
The series with Penn State dates back to the 1972 season and the Nittany Lions hold the all-time advantage 59-26. Ball State has won the last two contests with Penn State including a 3-1 win last season on Mar. 10. Ball State has not won in State College, Pa., since the 2006 season when it swept Penn State 32-30, 30-28, 30-28 on Jan. 14. The Nittany Lions hold an all-time record of 20-6 against the Cardinals at home.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine is 100 assists away from being seventh in program history in career assists. Heading into Saturday’s match, McIlvaine has 2,054 assists and trails Dave Carlson (2005-06) who has 2,153 career assists.