MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 13 Ball State men’s volleyball team dropped a tough 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 25-17) match to No. 1 Loyola at home in front of a crowd over 2,500 Thursday night in Worthen Arena. Sophomore Marcin Niemczewski led the team with 16 kills while senior Larry Wrather picked up a season-high 11 digs.
The Cardinals fall to 7-4 on the year and 3-1 in conference action. The Ramblers improve to 12-1 on the season and a spotless 5-0 in MIVA play. Coming into tonight, Loyola had only lost five sets and had won three-straight matches without losing a set.
Niemczewski picked up his offensive output in the third set registering nine kills of 11 attacks. He finished with a .211 hitting percentage (16-8-38) while getting under three digs and tallying one of Ball State’s five aces on the night.
Wrather received 30 passes on the night, committing only two reception errors for a .938 passing percentage. The senior finished with a season-high 11 digs while senior Graham McIlvaine and junior David Ryan Vander Meer each tallied six digs. McIlvaine picked up 41 assists as well.
The Cardinals came alive out of the intermission with 15 kills of a .414 attack percentage (15-3-29). Ball State managed to get a solo block from Owens as well as two assisted blocks from Owens and Witmer. The defense picked up 13 digs – the most digs in a set for Ball State on the night.
The Cardinals finished with a .225 hitting percentage (49-22-120) while the Ramblers maintained a .369 (56-15-111) clip. Loyola held the advantage in blocks (6-4) and digs (40-35) while both squads managed to produce five aces each.
Loyola was led on the night by 2013 MIVA Player of the Year Joseph Smalzer who had a match-high 17 kills. Smalzer was one of three Ramblers to tally double-digit kills on the night.
The attendance of 2,693 marks the fourth-largest crowd in Ball State men’s volleyball history. The largest crowd in Worthen for a men’s volleyball match was 3,729 when Ball State hosted then-No. 4 Stanford on Jan. 17, 2009.
The Cardinals head on the road Saturday, Feb. 22 to face No. 10 Lewis at 8 p.m. ET. A live radio broadcast of the match will be available via WCRD.net. Check ballstatesports.com for more news and information about Ball State men’s volleyball.