MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team locked up the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-13) win over in-state and league rival IPFW Saturday night at Worthen Arena.
With a win in its final league match of the 2011 season, the Cardinals improve to 17-10 (7-5 MIVA) and have now won nine straight matches over the Mastodons. IPFW falls to 15-10 (5-7 MIVA) with the loss. Lewis can also finish league play with a 7-5 record, but the Cardinals own the tiebreaker over the Flyers by virtue of its four-set home win March 25.
In Saturday's win over the Mastodons, sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) paced the Ball State attack with a team-best 12 kills. He also chipped in four digs and a pair of block assists.
The Cardinals also had a pair of key contributions off the bench in the victory. The first came from redshirt junior Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) late in the second set. With BSU trailing 22-19, Spadavecchio entered as a serving sub and proceeded to service out the set, forcing three IPFW attack errors and setting up a pair of BSU blocks.
Senior Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) also had a solid performance off the bench, blasting seven kills and hitting a match and career-best .636 (7-0-11). Meyer scored three kills on four swings in the third frame, while going a perfect 3-for-3 in the fourth frame. Meyer also provided Ball State's lone service ace of the match.
In the back row, redshirt sophomore Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) led all players with a match and season-high 10 digs.
As a team, the Cardinals out-blocked the Mastodons 18.5 to seven, with senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) tallying a match-best 10 total blocks, including four solo stuffs. He also scored five kills and four digs.
Ball State also finished the contest with a .304 (44-16-92) to .031 (43-39-128) hitting advantage, while out-digging IPFW 39 to 26.
IPFW's Ivan Matos led all players with 14 kills in the match, while Darryl Shank added 11. Matos also had a team-best seven digs.
The first set was a dead heat with the teams trading punches to a 19-19 tie. Unfortunately, a kill from Corey Frain and a BSU attack error gave the visitors at 21-19 lead. Ball State scored two of the next three points, moving the score to 22-21, only to have the Mastodons post three of the final four to win the game 25-22 on a Matos kill.
The teams played to a 13-13 tie in the second game before a Eddie Rivera kill and a BSU attack error gave IPFW a 15-13 edge. The guests extended their lead to four points at the 22-18 mark forcing a BSU timeout. The break was well utilized by the Cardinals, as a service error gave Ball state the ball.
From there, Spadavecchio took over from the service line, helping the Cardinals rally off the final six points to win the frame 25-22. Senior middle blocker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) and freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) combined for the set-winning block assists.
With the score of the third game tied at 11-11, a kill from Hartley and back-to-back BSU blocks (both including Nelson) gave the hosts the momentum in the set. IPFW would draw back within one at 15-14, only to see a 7-1 run give Ball State control of the game at 22-15. BSU went on to win the frame 25-17 on a kill by Wrather.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth game, and never looked back, winning the frame 25-13 on the team's lone ace of the match from Meyer.
The Ball State men's volleyball team concludes the regular season next weekend with home matches versus No. 10 Penn State (Friday, 7:30 p.m.) and St. Francis (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).