MEN'S VOLLEYBALL HOSTS GRAND CANYON: The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to Worthen Arena this weekend for a two-match Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association home stand versus Grand Canyon . . . The Cardinals and 'Lopes are set to square off at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.
WEEKEND RECAP: The Cardinals opened a three matches in three days weekend last Friday with a pivotal 3-1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21) MIVA home victory over No. 12 Lewis, giving BSU possession of the seeding tiebreaker over the Flyers for the upcoming MIVA Tournament . . . After an 11-hour bus ride Saturday, the Cardinals earned a hard-fought 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 26-24) non-conference victory at King College in Bristol, Tenn. . . . BSU concluded the weekend with a 2-3 (25-22, 22-25, 25-16, 25-27, 14-16) non-conference setback to Lees McRae at King College Sunday.
LOOKING AROUND THE LEAGUE: Ohio State continues to hold the edge in the MIVA standings with a perfect 10-0 mark and needs just one more win to secure at least a share of its fifth consecutive MIVA Regular Season title . . . Loyola, which scored league wins over Lewis (3-2) and IPFW (3-1) last week, is second in the league with a 7-1 MIVA mark . . . Ball State took control of the No. 3 slot in the standings at 4-4 by virtue of its win over Lewis which fell to 3-4 with a pair of league losses . . . IPFW is fifth at 2-6, while Quincy (0-5) and Grand Canyon (0-6) round out the league standings.
IN THE POLLS: The Ball State men's volleyball team remained outside the top 15 for the seventh consecutive week in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll . . . BSU did receive 10 points which is five less than No. 15 Lewis . . . BSU has been ranked as high as 12th this season (Jan. 17 & Jan. 24) . . . BSU has also received votes in the Asics/Volleyball Magazine Men's Division I-II Top 10 Poll twice (Jan. 17 & Jan. 24).
SCOUTING BALL STATE: The Cardinals enter the week with a 14-9 (4-4 MIVA) record after going 2-1 last weekend . . . Sophomore Larry Wrather leads the Ball State attack with a 2.64 kills-per-game average, while sophomore Greg Herceg is second at 2.36 . . . Freshman Graham McIlvaine and sophomore Dan Wichmann have combined to guide the Ball State offense to a .260 hitting mark this season, averaging 10.12 and 9.93 assist per game, respectively . . . Defensively, redshirt freshman Tommy Rouse leads the team with a 2.44 digs-per-game average for the year, while senior Anders Nelson paces the league at the net with a 1.34 blocks-per-game average . . . BSU is limiting its opponents to a league-low .184 hitting mark this season.
SERIES VS. GRAND CANYON: Ball State has won all four previous meetings versus Grand Canyon . . . Last season, the Cardinals scored a 3-1 (30-32, 31-29, 30-23, 30-25) home victory Jan. 21 and a 3-2 (30-18, 24-30, 28-30, 30-19, 15-13) road win March 9 . . . BSU also won both matches played in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2009.
SCOUTING GRAND CANYON: The Antelopes enter the weekend series versus Ball State with an 8-17 (0-6 MIVA) record . . . In its latest matches, GCU was swept by Ohio State March 20 and 21 . . . Ben Ponnet leads the team with a 2.80 kills-per-game average, while Jordon Tarantino is second at 2.14 . . . Keith Smith has set the 'Lopes offense to a .195 rate of success this season, handing out 8.73 assists-per-game . . . Defensively, Trent Bruns leads the team and the MIVA with a 2.59 digs-per-game average, while Taylor Galliano has a team-best 0.79 blocks-per-game average . . . Grand Canyon is limiting its opponents to a .264 hitting percentage this season.
CAREER VS. GRAND CANYON: In four career matches versus Grand Canyon, J.D. Gasparovic has averaged 2.19 blocks and 2.31 kills-per-game . . . He has posted 12 kills in a match twice versus the 'Lopes (March 7, 2009 & March 9, 2010), while adding 13 total blocks in another (March 8, 2009) . . . Lee Meyer has the top single-match kill total against GCU, with his 19 in the Jan. 21, 2010 match played at Worthen Arena . . . Jamion Hartley has played against Grand Canyon twice, recording double-figure kills in both matches, with 12 in the March 9, 2010 match and 10 in the Jan. 21, 2010 meeting.
HITTING WRATHER WELL: Sophomore Larry Wrather turned in three solid performances for the Cardinals last weekend, collecting double-digit kills in all three matches . . . In the win over No. 12 Lewis, Wrather tied for match-high honors with 15 kills while adding a season-best .407 (15-4-27) hitting percentage . . . He followed with a match-best 16 kills at King College, while collecting 10 markers versus Lees McRae . . . For the week, Wrather averaged 3.15 kills and 1.31 digs-per-game, while posting a .255 (41-16-98) attack percentage.
STUFFING THE COMPETITION: Ball State continued its domination at the net last weekend, averaging 2.50 blocks per game over the three matches . . . The Cardinals enter the week ranked first in the nation with a 3.00 blocks-per-game average . . . Mount Olive is second in the country at 2.98 . . . Individually, senior middle attacker Anders Nelson ranks third nationally with a 1.34 blocks-per-game average, while fellow senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic is eighth at 1.19 . . . The pair rank first and third, respectively, in the MIVA.
448 AND COUNTING: With his 12 block assists last weekend, J.D. Gasparovic took sole possession of second in program history with 448 career block assists . . . He needs 30 to pass Phil Eatherton's (1994-97) career total of 477 for first . . . In addition, his 510 career total blocks rank third in BSU annals . . . He needs just four more blocks to move into second in program history in that category . . . Eatherton is also BSU's all-time leader in total career blocks at 575 . . . In addition, Gasparovic's 510 total blocks, 448 block assists and 62 solo blocks are all BSU rally scoring era records.
BSU'S ACTIVE KILL LEADER: In addition to ranking as one of the top blockers in program history, J.D. Gasparovic enters the week as BSU's active kills leader with 735 career kills . . . Anders Nelson is second on the list with 599 career kills followed by senior outside attackers Marcus Imwalle (474) and Lee Meyer (470).
ANDERS CLIMBING THE CHARTS TOO: With his 11 total blocks last weekend, Anders Nelson climbed to 15th in program history with 362 career blocks . . . In addition, his 302 career block assists rank 13th in program history.
WEEKLY HONORS: So far this season, the Cardinals have claimed a pair of MIVA Weekly Awards . . . Tommy Rouse was named the MIVA Defensive Player of the Week Jan. 31 after averaging 3.44 digs per game and posting a .953 serve reception percentage versus George Mason and Sacred Heart . . . Anders Nelson earned MIVA Offensive Player of the Week honors Feb. 14 after leading the team with 19 kills, 17 total blocks and a .593 (19-3-27) attack percentage against Lewis and IPFW.
SPADAVECCHIO NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: After collecting 23 kills and 12 digs in BSU's three matches at the Outrigger Hotels Invitational, redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio was named to the event's All-Tournament Team . . . Spadavecchio collected six kills versus Hawai'i, 10 versus UCLA and seven against Penn State.