MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 13 Ball State men’s volleyball team will host MIVA rival No. 12 IPFW on Tuesday, Mar. 11 in Worthen Arena. The match will give the winner sole possession of second place in the MIVA. Ball State won the meeting earlier this season in Fort Wayne in a five-set thriller that saw five Cardinals register double-digit digs.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (12-5, 4-2 MIVA) picked up sweeps this past weekend against Belmont Abbey and King. Ball State has won its last 15 sets with the last set loss coming in the first frame of the 3-1 win over then-No. 13 Ohio State in Columbus.
Senior middle attacker Matt Leske heads up the Ball State blocking unit that is ranked first in the MIVA and third in the nation at 2.97 blocks per set. Leske leads the conference and is fourth in the country with his 1.39 blocks per set while his counterpart Kevin Owens is fourth in the league with 1.05 blocks per set.
Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski continues to lead the Cardinals offensively and ranks fourth in the MIVA with 3.54 kills per set. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer has a 2.19 digs per set average for fifth-place in the MIVA.
The Mastodons (13-3, 4-2 MIVA) have also won their last five contests earning victories over the same teams the Cardinals defeated in the same stretch. IPFW picked up sweeps over King and Belmont Abbey last weekend and also earned a 3-2 win over conference foe Ohio State earlier last week.
IPFW is ranked fifth in the country in aces (1.41) and assists (12.59) and sixth in kills (13.41) and hitting percentage (.312). The Mastodons lead the MIVA in digs with a 9.28 average led by libero Luis Bertran with 2.07 digs per set. Bryan Saunders is third in the MIVA and eighth in the country with his .429 hitting percentage. Omar Rivera is second in the conference and sixth in the nation with his 11.10 assists per set average.
Series with IPFW
Tuesday’s match marks the 98th meeting between Ball State and IPFW. The Cardinals hold the overall series advantage at 70-27, including a 3-2 win earlier this season in Fort Wayne. Ball State is on a three-match winning streak against IPFW.
The Last Time Out
The last meeting between these two programs saw three Cardinals earn double-doubles in the thrilling 3-2 win (18-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-27, 15-10) over then-No. 14 IPFW back on Friday, Jan. 31. Ball State benefited from a strong defensive night with five players registering double-digit digs led by junior David Ryan Vander Meer who got under a career-high 22 digs. Sophomore Marcin Niemczewski’s performance led him to earn AVCA National Player of the Week honors after he tallied a then-career-high 22 kills, 16 digs and eight blocks.
Surane Earns Honorable Mention Twice
Freshman outside hitter Brendan Surane was named an Honorable Mention for Off the Block/Springbak, Inc., National Freshman of the Week on Monday, Mar. 3 and Monday, Mar. 10. The freshman has 39 kills on the season for a .286 hitting percentage. Surane registered a career high in kills (12) and digs(7) against Belmont Abbey.
The victory over No. 13 Ohio State on Wednesday, Feb. 26 was the first time Ball State had won in St. John Arena since a 3-0 sweep of the Buckeyes back on April 7, 2006.
Head coach Joel Walton is four wins away from registering his 300th career win at Ball State. Walton has tallied a 296-159 mark in his 15 seasons at the helm of the Cardinals.