MUNCIE, Ind. - - Sophomore middle blocker Kevin Owens (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral) blasted nine kills and tallied six total blocks to lead the Ball State men's volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-9, 25-23, 25-20) sweep of visiting Mount Olive College Friday evening in non-conference action at Worthen Arena.
In helping the Cardinals climb to 9-5 this season, Owens pelted the floor for a .533 (9-1-15) hitting mark while throwing up a match-best six blocks, including two solo stuffs and four block assists.
Junior right side attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) added eight kills and four blocks, while redshirt freshman Matt Sutherland (Rochester, N.Y./Penfield) hit a match-best .571 with five kills on seven swings and one hitting error.
Herceg also turned in a solid effort in the back court, coming up with a team-best seven digs to help BSU edge MOC 30-27 in team digs.
Mount Olive's (4-10) John Nunns led all players with 10 kills, while Dan Arnold had a match-best nine digs.
Ball State held a decisive .250 (39-16-92) to .078 (30-23-90) hitting advantage, based in part on collecting 11 team blocks. BSU also served up three aces compared to none for Mount Olive.
After the teams battled to a 4-4 stalemate, a kill and ace from sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) helped BSU rattle off the next five points and take control of the opening set. BSU claimed its first 10-point lead at the 16-6 mark thanks to a kill from freshman outside attacker Shane Witmer (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North), before winning the frame 25-9 on back-to-back MOC attack errors.
Mount Olive charged out to a 17-11 lead in the second set, only to see BSU battle back and tie the score at 20 on a service ace from junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest). With the score tied at 23, a kill from Sutherland and a block from Wrather and Owens ended the game at 25-23.
The visitors from North Carolina pulled out to a 6-3 edge in the third set, only to see BSU post a 13-5 run to take control. Ball State reached match-point at 24-18 on a setting error, before closing the frame at 25-20 thanks to a service error.
The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Saturday, when it hosts Park University in another 7:30 p.m. first serve at Worthen Arena.