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Menís Volleyball Suffers 3-1 Setback At Loyola

   CHICAGO, Ill. - - The Ball State men's volleyball team opened a five-match road swing with a 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-23, 25-17) setback at Loyola-Chicago in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association action Tuesday evening at Gentile Arena.

   The Cardinals fall to 12-8 (4-5 MIVA) with the loss, while the Ramblers improve to 13-10 (4-3 MIVA) with the victory.

   Redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park) turned in another solid performance for the Cardinals, tallying a match-best seven blocks (three solo and four assists), while adding seven kills on 11 swings for a .636 attack percentage.

   Sophomore middle blocker Kevin Owens (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral) led Ball State's attackers with nine kills, while collecting three blocks of his own and hitting .412 (9-2-17).

   Redshirt junior opposite attacker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago) added eight kills, while junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest) tagged six.

   In the backcourt, sophomore libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral) paced all players with eight digs.

   Joseph Smalzer played a key role in the Ramblers win, smashing a match-high 22 kills and hitting for a .471 (22-6-34) rate of success. His effort helped LUC hold a 50-39 advantage in total kill on the night. Dainis Berzins added nine markers for Loyola, while Peter Jasaitis had a team-best seven digs.

   Loyola also held a .264 (50-21-110) to .165 (39-23-97) hitting edge in the contest, while out-digging BSU 32-31. Another key component in the win was LUC's nine service aces, including four from Smalzer, compared to none for BSU.

   The teams played to a 3-3 tie in the opening set before an 8-2 run by the Ramblers gave the hosts control. Loyola cruised from there, winning the set 25-15 on a kill from Berzins.

   With the score tied at 4-4 in the second set, three Loyola attack errors and a solo block from Leske gave the Cardinals some momentum. The hosts would battle back to tie the score at 12, before Leske scored a kill and another solo stuff to help BSU post a 5-1 run.

   The Ramblers would scratch back within one, at 18-17, only to see Ball State reach set-point at 24-19 off another LUC attack error. After two Loyola points and a BSU timeout, a block assist from junior setter Dan Wichmann (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove) and Owens ended the frame at 25-21.

   Thanks in part to two kills from Hartley and four Loyola errors, the Cardinals pulled out to a 10-6 advantage in the third set. Ball State maintained a three-point lead at 14-11, only to see LUC even the score with the next three points. The teams played to a 23-23 stalemate from there, before Smalzer posted a kill and ace to give Loyola a 25-23 third-set win.

   With the Cardinals trailing 9-7 in the fourth game, the Ramblers put together the biggest run of the match by rattling off the next seven points to pull ahead 16-7. Loyola would go on to win the set 25-17 and the match 3-1 on a kill from Cody Caldwall.

   The Ball State men's volleyball team continues its regular season-ending five-match road swing Easter Weekend (April 6-7) with a Friday match at Lewis (7 p.m. CT) and a Saturday showdown at IPFW (7 p.m.).
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