MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball team is on the road this weekend to take on MIVA foe Grand Canyon on back-to-back nights on Fri., Arp. 4 and Sat., Apr. 5. Both matches are set for 9 p.m. ET. The Cardinals are on a two-match skid after dropping contests to No. 1 Loyola and No. 11 Lewis.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (17-7, 6-4 MIVA) is on a two-match skid after dropping two heartbreaking losses to MIVA foes No. 1 Loyola and No. 11 Lewis last week. Senior middle attacker Matt Leske was named Defensive Player of the Week after picking up 2.10 blocks per set including a career-high-tying 12 blocks against Lewis. Senior setter Graham McIlvaine notched his third double-double of the season against Lewis with 54 assists and 11 digs.
Ball State leads the nation in blocks per set (2.97) and the MIVA in digs per set (10.29). Senior middle attacker Matt Leske leads the nation with his 1.58 blocks per set while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer is first in the MIVA and sixth in the country with his 2.66 digs per set average.
Ball State is hitting a .261 attack percentage for the season while holding opponents to a .191 clip. Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski has 283 kills on the season for a 3.37 kills per set average while senior middle attackers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske, red-shirt senior outside attacker Larry Wrather and junior outside attackers Shane Witmer and Matt Sutherland have each tallied over 100 kills on the season.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine has dished out 808 assists and has registered 29 aces, 133 digs and 61 blocks. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer leads the digging for the Cardinals with 237 on the season while Witmer and Niemczewski also have eclipsed 100 digs.
Scouting Grand Canyon
The Antelopes (14-13, 2-8 MIVA) picked up two wins last weekend against NJIT after dropping two contests to MIVA foe IPFW. Senior middle hitter Connor Dougherty is third in the country with his .450 hitting percentage while senior outside hitter Ben Ponnet is fifth in the country with 4.09 kills per set. Red-shirt junior libero Jared Morrison is seventh in the nation with his 2.58 digs per set.
Series with Grand Canyon
Ball State holds the 9-2 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to the 2009 season. The Cardinals and Antelopes split their meetings last season at Worthen Arena with Ball State picking up a five-set win on Feb., 9 before Grand Canyon took a sweep on Feb. 10. BSU is 5-1 in Phoenix. The last time Ball State defeated Grand Canyon on back-to-back nights was in 2011 and the last time the Cardinals took two-straight from the Antelopes in Phoenix was in 2009.
Stuck In The Middle With You
All-American middle attackers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens are both hitting at over .400 for the season at .417 and .410, respectively. The seniors have a combined 304 kills on the year. The two also head up the blocking for the Cardinals with 218 total blocks between the two this season. Leske has had 14 matches this season with at least five blocks.
Leske Picks Up MIVA Defensive Player of the Week
Senior middle attacker Matt Leske leads the nation in blocks per set on the season with a 1.58 blocks per set average.Leske notched his second career double-double against No. 11 Lewis with 12 kills and career-high-tying 12 blocks. Leske has tallied at least six blocks in the last seven matches.
Ball State enters this weekend’s matches in third place in the MIVA Tournament. The first four teams will host the MIVA Quarterfinals at Sat., Apr. 19. Loyola has a firm hold on the No. 1 position, having a flawless 11-0 league mark. With the win over the Cardinals the Lewis Flyers moved to second place in the conference with a 7-3 record. Ball State is third with a 6-4 mark followed by IPFW with a 6-5 ledger.
The Doctor Is In
Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under a career-high 23 digs against NJIT to set a rally-scoring era school record for most digs in a four-set match. The count marked the second time this season Vander Meer had tallied over 20 kills. The libero has tallied double digit digs in 10 matches, including the last six. For his efforts against NJIT and Ohio State, Vander Meer earned his second MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honor.
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State men’s volleyball, follow @bsuathletics and @BallStateMVB on Twitter. The team is also on Instagram at @ballstatemvb.