MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 13 Ball State men’s volleyball team travels to Romeoville, Ill., to take on No. 11 Lewis Wednesday evening. The match pits one of the best defenses in the country in Ball State with one of the nation’s best offensive teams in Lewis. Senior middle attacker Matt Leske and junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer lead the league in blocks per set and digs per set, respectively.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (22-7, 10-4 MIVA) picked up a 3-0 win over Lindenwood in the MIVA Quarterfinals on Fri., Apr. 18. In the win, junior outside hitter Shane Witmer tallied his second double-double of the season with 12 kills and 10 digs. Senior middle attacker Kevin Owens picked up 11 kills while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under 10 digs.
Ball State leads the MIVA in blocks per set and digs per set with averages of 3.00 and 10.43, respectively. Senior middle attacker Matt Leske tops the league with his 1.60 blocks per set average while David Ryan Vander Meer leads the conference in digs per set at 2.72.
For the season the Cardinals are hitting a .255 percentage and are holding opponents to a .192 clip. Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski leads the Cardinals with 312 kills on the season for a 3.28 average. Graham McIlvaine has dished out 998 assists on the year while David Ryan Vander Meer has gotten under 288 digs. Matt Leske has 163 total blocks on the year while Kevin Owens has 104 total blocks.
The Flyers (22-6, 11-3 MIVA) are on a seven-match winning streak heading into the MIVA Semifinals. Lewis led the MIVA with five All-Conference selections: BJ Boldog and Geoff Powell named to the All-MIVA First Team while Greg Petty, Lucas Yanez and Bobby Walsh getting the All-MIVA Second Team nod. Powell and Petty each have tallied over 300 kills for Lewis on the season while Boldog has dished out 852 assists. Yanez has gotten under 212 digs on the campaign and Walsh leads the Flyers with 126 total blocks.
Series with Lewis
Wednesday’s meeting marks the 53rd meeting between the two programs in a series that dates back to the 1994 season. Ball State holds the all-time series advantage with a 29-23 record. The last time these two teams met in the MIVA Tournament was during the 2009 season when Ball State won a 3-2 match to advance to the MIVA Championships. The Cardinals have won the last three MIVA Tournament matches against the Flyers.
The Last Time Out
The Flyers took the regular season series sweep of the Cardinals. The last meeting was a heartbreaking 3-2 loss for Ball State in Worthen Arena. In the match on Mar. 29, Matt Leske and Graham McIlvaine each tallied double doubles. Leske connected on 12 kills and 12 blocks while McIlvaine dished out 54 assists and picked up 11 digs. Lewis outside attacker Geoff Powell took control down the stretch and finished the night with a career-high 32 kills of a blistering .406 hitting percentage.
In the MIVA Tournament
The Cardinals have a 60-29 record (.674) in the MIVA Tournament. Ball State is 18-2 in quarterfinal matches, 16-13 in semifinal matches and 14-11 in the championship match. From 1964-69, teams competed in a round robin during the postseason and Ball State amassed a 12-3 record. The last time Ball State advanced to the MIVA Championship match was during the 2009 season.
American had previously earned Second Team nods in 2012 and 2013. Kevin Owens and Graham McIlvaine earned All-MIVA Second Team nods. Owens had previously earned First Team honors in 2013 and Second Team honors in 2012. McIlvaine’s honoris the first in his career.
Stuck In The Middle With You
All-American middle attackers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens are both hitting over .400 for the season at .404 and .427, respectively. The seniors have a combined 381 kills on the year, led by Owen’s 209 kills. The two also head up the blocking for the Cardinals with 267 total blocks between the two this season. Leske had at least seven blocks in 12 matches and has managed double digits in blocks three times this season.
In the Ball State Record Books
Red-shirt senior Matt Leske ranks fifth in Ball State’s 51 year history in career blocks per set average at 1.46. He is eighth all-time in career total blocks at 429 and seventh in career assisted blocks with 372. Classmate Kevin Owens’ .419 clip this season ranks 11th in Ball State history in season hitting percentage. For his career, the Fisher, Ind., native is hitting a .409 percentage which ranks fourth in school history for career hitting percentage.
Senior Graham McIlvaine has dished out 3,177 assists in his career – sixth in Ball State history. McIlvaine’s 9.48 career assists per set average is eighth in the school record books. For his career, McIlvaine has tallied 66 service aces, 254 total blocks and 249 kills. Red-shirt senior Larry Wrather is 19th in school history in total sets played with 353 in his career.
Dishing the Rock
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine needs only two more assists to become the first Cardinal to eclipse 1,000 assists in a season since Ethan Pheister dished out 1,291 assists during the 2010 season.
The Doctor Is In
Junior libero David Ryan “Doc” 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 15 matches, including 11 of the last 12 matches.
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.