MEN'S VOLLEYBALL CLOSES REGULAR SEASON: The 2011 regular season comes to an end this weekend when the Ball State men's volleyball team hosts the 2011 Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge . . . During the two-day event, the Cardinals will host No. 9 (tie) Penn State Friday and Saint Francis (Pa.) Saturday . . . Both matches start at 7:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena and will be webcasted live by Ball State Sports Link.
SENIOR CELEBRATION: Following the conclusion of Saturday's match versus Saint Francis, the Ball State men's volleyball team will honor its five-member senior class . . . J.D. Gasparovic, Marcus Imwalle, Lee Meyer, Anders Nelson and Dominic Spadavecchio will be playing in their final regular season match at Worthen Arena.
WEEKEND RECAP: After suffering a heartbreaking 3-2 (11-25, 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 16-14) loss at No. 12 Loyola Friday, the Cardinals locked up the No. 3 seed in the MIVA Tournament with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-13) home win over IPFW Saturday.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: After last weekend's action, the field has been set for the 2011 MIVA Tournament . . . No. 9 (tie) Ohio State has locked up the No. 1 seed and first-round bye as the 2011 MIVA Regular Season Champions with an 11-1 league mark . . . With its win over Ball State Friday, No. 12 Loyola locked up the No. 2 seed with an 8-2 MIVA mark and two league matches remaining . . . The Cardinals win over IPFW Saturday secured the No. 3 seed for BSU (7-5 MIVA), while giving No. 15 Lewis (5-5 MIVA) the No. 4 seed with two matches left on its docket . . . IPFW (5-7 MIVA) will be the No. 5 seed, as Lewis holds a one-point edge in the tiebreaker between the two teams if they were to tie in the standings . . . By virtue of its series sweep of Grand Canyon last weekend, Quincy (2-8 MIVA) earns the No. 6 seed, giving the 'Lopes (0-10 MIVA) the No. 7 slot.
IN THE POLLS: The Ball State men's volleyball team remained outside the top 15 for the ninth consecutive week in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll . . . BSU did receive seven points which is 19 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 17-10 (7-5 MIVA) record after losing at No. 12 Loyola and defeating IPFW last weekend . . . Sophomore Larry Wrather leads the Ball State attack with a 2.64 kills-per-game average, while sophomore Jamion Hartley is second at 2.33 . . . Freshman Graham McIlvaine and sophomore Dan Wichmann have combined to guide the Ball State offense to a .263 hitting mark this season, averaging 9.84 and 9.90 assist per game, respectively . . . Defensively, redshirt freshman Tommy Rouse leads the team with a 2.33 digs-per-game average, 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 .182 hitting mark this season.
SERIES VS. PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions own a 59-24 lead in the all-time series versus the Cardinals, including 12 straight wins . . . The teams have played twice so far this season, with the Penn State earning a 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-20) win Jan. 15 at the Outrigger Invitational and a 3-0 (25-18, 36-34, 25-17) home victory March 18 . . . BSU's last victory over Penn State was a 3-0 (32-30, 30-28, 30-28) win in Rec Hall's South Gym Jan. 14, 2006 . . . Penn State also holds a 17-5 lead in matches played in Muncie.
SCOUTING NO. 9 PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions enter Friday's match with a 21-5 (10-0 EIVA) record and tied for ninth in the latest AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll . . . Penn State scored a 3-1 win at Ohio State in its lone match last week . . . Joe Sunder leads the team with a 4.63 kills-per-game average, while Tom Comfort is second at 3.31 . . . Edgardo Goas has set the Nittany Lions offense to a .327 rate of success this season, handing out 11.08 assists-per-game . . . Defensively, Dennis Del Valle leads the team with a 2.61 digs-per-game average, while Ian Hendries has a team-best 0.88 blocks-per-game average . . . PSU is limiting its opponents to a .280 hitting percentage.
SERIES VS. SAINT FRANCIS: Ball State holds an 9-3 lead in the all-time series versus the Red Flash, including wins in the last four meetings . . . BSU scored a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-20) victory in the first meeting this season at Saint Francis (March 19) . . . The Cardinals hold a 4-1 lead in matches played in Muncie, including three straight wins.
SCOUTING SAINT FRANCIS: The Red Flash enter the week with a 10-15 (3-8 EIVA) record, after suffering losses at Juniata (3-0), at George Mason (3-0) and versus Sacred Heart (3-2) last week . . . Logan Patterson leads the team with a 3.23 kills-per-game average, while Colin Sherwin is second at 2.65 . . . Ryan Williams has set the Red Flash offense to a .242 rate of success this season, handing out 10.48 assists per game . . . Defensively, John Wappler leads the team with a 2.47 digs-per-game average, while Adam Roche has a team-best 1.09 blocks-per-game average . . . Saint Francis' opponents are hitting .293.
STUFFING THE COMPETITION: Ball State dominated play at the net last weekend, collecting 38 team blocks for a 4.22 blocks-per-game average . . . With the effort, BSU moved back into first in the nation with a 3.01 average for the season . . . Pacific is currently second at 2.90 . . . Individually, Anders Nelson ranks third nationally with a 1.34 blocks-per-game average, while J.D. Gasparovic is sixth at 1.25.
SECOND ON THE CHARTS: J.D. Gasparovic enters the week ranked second in program history in career blocks (537) and career block assists (469) . . . Phil Eatherton (1994-97) is BSU's all-time leader in both categories with 575 career blocks and 477 career block assists . . . Gasparovic's 537 blocks, 469 block assists and 68 solo blocks are 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 760 career kills . . . Anders Nelson is second on the list with 634 career kills followed by Marcus Imwalle (495) and Lee Meyer (485).
ANDERS CLIMBING THE CHARTS TOO: With his 16 total blocks last weekend, Anders Nelson climbed to 13th in program history with 386 career blocks . . . In addition, his 322 career block assists rank 11th in program history.
HEAVY HITTING: Sophomore Larry Wrather has led the Cardinals in kills in four of the past seven matches, while posting double-digit kills six times during the span for a 2.84 kills-per-game average . . . Wrather enters the week ranked 10th in the MIVA with a 2.64 kills-per-game average.
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.