PHOENIX – No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball defeated Grand Canyon Friday evening 25-18, 25-22, 26-24. Junior outside attacker Shane Witmer recorded a team-high eight kills while senior setter Graham McIlvaine recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 29 assists and 10 digs.
With the win Ball State improves to 18-7 overall and 7-4 in the MIVA while Grand Canyon falls to 14-14 on the year and 2-9 in conference action.
Witmer finished with eight kills while senior middle attacker and junior outside attacker Matt Sutherland each tallied six kills. Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski recorded five kills and senior middle attacker Kevin Owens had four kills.
Defensively, Leske recorded eight blocks while Owens finished with five blocks. McIlvaine and junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer each got under 10 digs.
Ball State had four service aces on the night, only committing five errors on the night while Grand Canyon managed one ace with 10 errors.
Niemczewski led the way in the first set with four kills while he and Leske combined on four blocks. The Cardinals recorded the first three points of the set off an Antelope service error and back-to-back Leske-Niemczewski blocks. Five-straight Ball State points extended the lead to 15-5 causing Grand Canyon to call a timeout. Ball State controlled the rest of the set taking it 25-18 off a kill from McIlvaine.
Witmer exploded offensively in the second set with seven kills in the set off 17 swings. The Cardinals took a 15-9 lead before the Antelopes got within two points at 16-14. With Ball State holding a 23-20 lead, Grand Canyon called a timeout. A Ball State attack error followed by a Grand Canyon block caused the Cardinals to call a timeout with a 23-22 lead. An Owens-Witmer block and a kill from Owens finished off the set for Ball State.
Leske tallied four kills without committing an attack error to go with four blocks. Freshman outside attacker Brendan Surane tallied two kills, a service ace, a dig and an assisted block to help propel to the Cardinals in overtime, 26-24. Grand Canyon jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead causing Ball State to call a timeout. Five-straight points from Ball State caused Grand Canyon to call its first timeout of the frame holding on to a 16-12 lead.
An Antelope attack error and an Owens-Wrather block helped Ball State to tie the set at 20-20. Grand Canyon extended its lead to 22-20 off kills from Ben Ponnet and Keith Smith. A Grand Canyon attack error and a McIlvaine-Leske-Wrather triple block knotted the score at 22-22. The teams traded points to tie the set at 23-23. A Leske-Surane block gave Ball State the 24-23 advantage causing Grand Canyon timeout. A Grand Canyon kill knotted the score once more at 24-24 before Ball State took the match off a kill from Surane and attack error from GCU’s Ponnet.
The Cardinals held the advantage in hitting percentage (.127 - .092) and blocks (13.5 – 10.5) while the Antelopes got under 42 digs to BSU’s 35.
The Antelopes were led by Ben Ponnet who tallied a match-high 17 kills.
Ball State and Grand Canyon will play again tomorrow night, Sat., Apr. 5. The match is set for 9 p.m. ET.
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.