NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team started its three-match west coast swing with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-20) setback to 12th-ranked Cal-State Northridge Wednesday evening at The Matadome.
Junior right side Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) had the hot arm for the Cardinals (10-6), leading the team with a career-high tying 13 kills. He also tallied three digs, while posting a career-best .333 (13-4-27) hitting mark.
However, it was the Northridge (7-10) offense which controlled the match, as they connected for a .462 (48-6-91) rate of success, including 16 kills and a .682 (16-1-22) hitting mark from Matt Stork. John Baker also tagged 15 kills from the Matadors.
Ball State, which entered the match as one of the top blocking teams in the nation, was limited to just one block in the contest, while Cal-State Northridge posted 10.
The Cardinals finished the night with a .191 (35-18-89) hitting mark, with sophomore middle attacker Kevin Owens (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral) posting a team-best .444 (5-1-9) attack percentage.
BSU redshirt sophomore libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral) led all players with nine digs, as the Cardinals held a slim 31-29 edge in that statistical category.
Freshman outside attacker Shane Witmer (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) got the match started with a kill, as BSU pulled out to a 2-0 lead in the opening set. BSU maintained the two-point edge at 4-2, after a kill from junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest), before the Matadors scored the next three to take their first lead. With the score tied at 10, the hosts rattled off the next five points and controlled the set from there, winning 25-17.
Once again, the Cardinals scored the first two points of the second set, only to have CSUN tie the score at 3-3. After playing to a 7-7 stalemate, the Matadors scored the next two points and never trailed again, scoring a 25-18 victory in the frame.
Herceg scored two of the first three points in the final frame, as the Cardinals held even through the 12-12 mark. Unfortunately, the hosts scored the next four points to pull ahead 16-12. A 4-1 run would get Ball State back within one, at 17-16, but the hosts scored the next four points and went on to win the game 25-20 on a match-winning kill from Baker.The Ball State men's volleyball team continues its trip out west this weekend, when it visits Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association foe Grand Canyon Friday and Saturday. Both matches are set for 8 p.m. (ET) / 6 p.m. (MST) first serves.