MUNCIE, Ind. - - After dominating the first set, the 15th-ranked Ball State men's volleyball team saw its season come to an end with a 3-1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 26-24) setback to Quincy Saturday evening at Worthen Arena in the quarterfinal round of the 2011 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament.
With the loss, the Cardinals end the year with a 19-11 overall record. The Hawks improve to 22-13 with the win and advance to the MIVA Tournament Semifinals for the first time in program history. Quincy will travel to No. 12 Loyola for their semifinal match, as the Ramblers scored a 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-14) win over Grand Canyon Saturday evening.
"I give a lot of credit to Quincy tonight," said Ball State head coach Joel Walton. "I thought they passed really well and their setter did one heck of a job getting their guys into a good offensive rhythm. We just could not stop them in the final three games."
In what turned out to be the final match of his career, senior middle attacker J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) was a one-man wall at the net for the Cardinals, racking up a season-high 12 total blocks, including tying his career-high with four solo stuffs. With the effort, he finished the season with a team-high 1.36 blocks-per-game average and is poised to lead the league in blocking for all four years of his career.
Fellow senior middle attacker Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) tied for match-high honors with 14 kills, while adding four digs and a .308 (14-6-26) attacking mark.
Senior outside attacker Lee Meyer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller H.S.) added 12 kill and a .346 (12-3-26) hitting mark, while collecting a team-best 14 digs.
Also blasting double-digit kills for the Cardinals was redshirt sophomore opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) with 11.
After allowing the Cardinals to post a .524 (14-3-21) hitting mark in the opening frame, the Quincy defense came to life limiting BSU to a .165 (38-22-97) rate of success the rest of the night, led by 13.5 team blocks over the final three sets. BSU hit .229 (52-25-188) for the match.
Despite 15 team blocks from the Cardinals, including 12 from Gasparovic, Quincy finished the match with a .208 (51-26-120) hitting mark. Joseph Sokol led the Hawks and tied BSU's Nelson for match-high honors with 14 kills. QU libero Tanner Wright added a match-best 13 digs, while Kyle Volstad collected seven total blocks, including four solos.
With the score of the first set tied at 3-3, the Ball State block came to life as a block assist and two solo stuffs from Gasparovic and a block assist and solo block from freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) helped BSU pull out to a 9-4 edge leading to a Quincy timeout. Another McIlvaine solo block pushed the Ball State lead to six, at 13-7, and the Cardinals cruised to a 25-17 victory from there, with Nelson providing the set-winning kill.
BSU hit .524 (14-3-21) in the opening frame, with Meyer scoring five kills on seven swings with no errors. BSU also tallied six team blocks, with Gasparovic accounting for four and McIlvaine three.
The Cardinals looked poised to make another big run in the second set, turning a 5-5 tie into a 9-6 advantage. However, the visitors battled back to tie the score at 12-12 on a Joseph Ascher kill. A Quincy block and ace followed, forcing BSU's first timeout of the contest at 14-12.
With BSU trailing 16-14, two kills from Meyer over the next three rallies helped the Cardinals pull within one at 17-16. However, three quick Hawks' points, including two Ryan Lehmann kills, pushed the score to 20-16. Quincy went on to win the game 25-21 on a Steven Battaglia kill. The Hawks limited BSU to a .171 hitting mark in the game, while out-blocking the Cardinals three to one.
Quincy capitalized on some shaky Ball State passing to pull out to a 4-1 lead in the third game, and continued to control the momentum at the 10-5 mark forcing a Ball State timeout. A kill and two blocks from Gasparovic helped the Cardinals rally within three at the 11-8 mark, only to see the Hawks reclaim their five-point lead at 16-11.
A 3-0 run, including a Nelson kill and Gasparovic block, brought the Cardinals back within two at 16-14, only to see Quincy force another BSU timeout at the 19-15 mark. The Hawks controlled play from there, winning the frame 25-20 on a kill from Ascher.
With the score of the fourth set tied at three, back-to-back kills from Sokol gave Quincy a slim 5-3 edge. After the teams traded the next eight points, a solo block from Volstad and a BSU error led to a Cardinals' timeout trailing 11-7. Another Volstad solo block forced Ball State's second timeout at 17-11.
A Meyer kill and a pair of Gasparovic blocks, including a solo stuff, helped BSU rattle off the next three points, leading to a Quincy timeout at 17-14. The Cardinals run continued as a QU attack error and another block involving Gasparovic brought the hosts within one at 17-16.
With Ball State trailing 21-18, another Meyer kill and a pair of aces from senior outside attacker/libero Marcus Imwalle (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local H.S.) tied the score at 21. Battaglia answered with back-to-back kills, while a BSU attack error gave the guests match-point at 24-21.
Determined to keep BSU's season alive, Nelson pounded a kill to the middle of the court breaking the guests momentum. After a Quincy attack error, a kill from redshirt junior outside attacker Dominic Spadavecchio (Palatine, Ill./William Fremd H.S.) knotted the score at 24-24.
Unfortunately, kills from Sokol and Lehmann followed, allowing Quincy to escape with a 26-24 game win and a 3-1 match victory.