MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 13 Ball State men’s volleyball team swept the Lindenwood Lions 28-26, 25-23, 25-20 Fri., Apr. 18 in Worthen Arena. Junior outside attacker Shane Witmer and senior middle attacker Kevin Owens led the way offensively for the Cardinals.
With the win Ball State improves to 22-7 on the season while Lindenwood falls to 19-12 on the campaign. Ball State is now 60-29 in MIVA Tournament action including an 18-2 mark in MIVA Quarterfinals.
“We had a great Worthen Arena crowd behind us,” said head coach Joel Walton. “The crowd was excited and giving our guys energy on the court and we need that in a tournament-type situation.”
Witmer notched his second double-double of the season with his team-high 12 kills and 10 digs. Owens hit a .588 clip with 11 kills off 17 swings. The middle attacker also added four assisted blocks. Junior outside hitter Matt Sutherland added nine kills while sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski added seven kills. Senior middle attacker Matt Leske and senior setter Graham McIlvaine each tallied six kills.
McIlvaine dished out a match-high 38 assists to go with seven digs and three assisted blocks. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under 10 digs – his 11th time going in double figures in the last 12 matches. Niemczewski and McIlvaine each had seven digs while Sutherland got under six. Leske ended with four assisted blocks while McIlvaine and Niemczewski each had three assisted blocks.
The first set was an exciting one with 16 ties and seven lead changes. The Lions came out of the gate earning the first three points of the match off a kill, block and service ace. The Cardinals settled in and strung four points together to tie the set at 5-5 off a Witmer kill. Owens started a run of points for Ball State that allowed the Cardinals to take a 15-11 lead causing the Lions to call a timeout. Consecutive attack errors by Ball State followed by two Lindenwood blocks and a ball handling error by the Cardinals allowed the Lions to take a late 19-18 lead. An emphatic kill from Owens knotted the set back up at 21-21. The teams traded set points down the stretch but kills from Owens, Sutherland and Witmer allowed the Cardinals to win in overtime, 28-26.
The Leske-Niemczewski blocking combination accounted for two of Ball State’s first three points. The score was close throughout the second set but the Cardinals managed to push to a 20-17 lead before the first timeout was called. The Lions used the timeout to their advantage, scoring three-straight to tie the set at 20-20. The teams would trade points and with the set tied at 22-22 Witmer and McIlvaine would register kills to give Ball State a set point opportunity at 24-22. Lindenwood called its final timeout of the set and managed to get a kill from Kyle Overby. The set would end on a McIlvaine-Owens block to give BSU the 25-23 win.
Ball State controlled the third set with a .375 attack percentage in the frame (15-3-32). The offense was spread evenly with McIlvaine, Witmer, Sutherland and Niemczewski each registering three kills in the set. Coming out of a timeout the Lions would tally a kill and a service ace to get to within two, 22-20. Witmer and McIlvaine knocked in kills and the match ended off a miscue from Lindenwood.
The Cardinals ended the night with a .316 hitting percentage (51-15-114) and kept the Lions to a .233 clip (39-15-103). Ball State held the advantage in digs (43-41), assists (45-37), kills (51-39) and total team blocks (8-7).
No. 13 Ball State will face No. 11 Lewis in Romeoville, Ill., on Wed., Apr. 23 with the first serve set at 7 p.m. CT.
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.