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Offense Key As Menís Volleyball Sweeps Park

   MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team hit for a season-best .305 (33-11-72) rate of success in a 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-20) sweep of Park University Saturday evening at Worthen Arena.

   Junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest)  and sophomore middle blocker Kevin Owens (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral) paced BSU's (10-5) attackers with seven kills apiece. Owens hit a match-best .636 (7-0-11), while Wrather connected for a .583 (7-0-12) mark. Owens also scored a match-best seven total blocks (one solo and six assists).

   Redshirt junior right side attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago) collected a match-high seven digs, while adding five kills and three total blocks.

   Sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) led BSU to it season-best hitting mark by dishing out 27 assists. He also blasted four kills, served up a pair of aces and tallied a solo block.

   Park's (10-3) Matheus Roham led all attackers with nine kills, while Fray Luis Arteaga added eight. Arteaga and Rob Cordero tied for team-high honors with five digs.

   The Ball State defense used 14.5 team blocks to limit the Park attack to a .000 (25-25-75) hitting mark for the night. Park did hold a 22-18 lead in digs.

   Park scored four of the first five points in the opening set, only to BSU battle back and tied the score at 4-4 on a kill from Owens. From there, the teams played to a 13-13 stalemate before a kill from Wrather and a solo block from junior right side attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) gave Ball State a 15-13 edge. The Cardinals controlled play from there, winning the game 25-17 on another kill from Wrather.

   After playing to a 4-4 tie to open the second set, a service error and a block assist from Herceg and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Matt Leske (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park) gave BSU the lead for good in the frame. The Cardinals cruised from there, closing out the game 25-16 on a Park attack error.

   The teams played to a 14-14 deadlock in the third set before a Leske solo block, a kill from Hartley and an ace from senior outside attacker Jeff Aucoin (Brighton, Mass./New Hampshire) gave BSU a 17-14 lead. After a Park timeout, a BSU triple block extended the run to four points and moved the score to 18-14. The Cardinals went on to close out the set at 25-20 and the match at 3-0 on a kill from Ownes.

   The Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Wednesday, March 7, when it travels to Cal-State Northridge for a 7 p.m. (PST) first serve.

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