Men's Volleyball Returns To Action Friday At Lewis
►ON THE ROAD AGAIN: After a 17-day break, the Ball State men's volleyball team returns to action Friday, when it travels to Lewis for a 7 p.m. (CT) Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association showdown . . . BSU will then battle league and in-state rival IPFW Saturday with a 7 p.m. first serve in Fort Wayne.
►FOLLOW THE ACTION: For Ball State fans who cannot make it to this weekend's matches, live stats and live video will be available for both matches at the links provided above.
►CARDINALS ALL-TIME: The Ball State men's volleyball program enters Friday's match at Lewis with a 1065-429-8 (.712) all-time record in 48-plus seasons of play . . . The program, which officially became a varsity sport at Ball State during the 1964 season, joins baseball and men's basketball as the only programs in school history to reach 1,000 wins . . . In addition, only one other NCAA Division I/II men's volleyball program has eclipsed 1,000 wins, with UCLA entering the week with an 1,237-287 all-time record over 49-plus years.
►250 AND COUNTING: Joel Walton, who is in his 14th season as BSU's head coach, picked up his 250th career victory in a 3-2 thriller at George Mason (Jan. 14) . . . Walton coached his 400th career match versus Park (Feb. 25), picking up a 3-0 victory . . . He enters Friday's match with a 261-144 (.644) career record . . . Walton holds a 21-12 lead in the all-time series versus Lewis, while boasting a 22-7 all-time mark versus IPFW.
►ALL-TIME VERSUS LEWIS: Ball State holds a 28-18 lead in the all-time series versus Lewis despite suffering a 3-0 (44-42, 25-19, 25-15) home setback to the Flyers in the first meeting this season (Feb. 5) . . . BSU is 10-8 all-time in matches played in Romeoville, Ill., including wins in four of its last six road matches in the series.
►ALL-TIME VERSUS IPFW: Ball State continued its dominance versus its in-state rival earlier this season, picking up a 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 34-32) home win over the Mastodons Feb. 18 . . . In all, the Cardinals have won the last 11 matches between the two squads and holds a commanding 67-25 lead in the all-time series . . . BSU is 30-12 in matches played in Ft. Wayne, including four consecutive road wins.
►SCOUTING THE CARDINALS: The Cardinals enter the week with a 12-8 (4-5 MIVA) record and have not played since a 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-23, 25-17) loss at Loyola March 20 . . . Redshirt junior opposite attacker Jamion Hartley paces the BSU attack with a 2.54 kills-per-set average, while junior outside attacker Larry Wrather is second at 2.50 kps . . . Junior Dan Wichmann has started the last three matches at setter and has set the Cardinals to a .214 hitting mark during the span by averaging 10.2 assists per game . . . Redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske has a team-high 1.30 blocks per set, while sophomore middle attacker Kevin Owens hits a league-best .416 . . . Sophomore libero Tommy Rouse averages 2.36 digs per set to pace the BSU backcourt.
►TAKING CHARGE AT THE NET: Ball State continues to be one of the most dominating defenses in the nation at the net, ranking seventh in the country with a 2.79 blocks-per-set average . . . Matt Leske leads the Ball State block and ranks ninth nationally at 1.30 bps, while Kevin Owens is 15th in the country at 1.14.
►AND IN THE BACKCOURT: Ball State also enters the weekend ranked sixth nationally with a 9.46 digs-per-set average . . . Tommy Rouse is eighth among all NCAA Division I/II players at 2.36 dps, while Larry Wrather is 37th at 1.81.
►THE MOOSE IS LOOSE: Junior opposite attacker Greg Herceg has turned in career-high attack numbers in three of the last five matches, starting with a then-career-high tying 13 kills at No. 12 Cal State Northridge (March 9) . . . He followed with a then-career-high 16 kills in the second match at Grand Canyon (March 10) . . . To follow that up, Herceg blasted a career-high 22 kills in BSU's 3-2 win over No. 10 Ohio State which earned him co-MIVA Offensive Player of the Week accolades . . . Over the last five matches, Herceg is pacing the Ball State offense with a 2.80 kills-per-set average, while adding 29 total digs to rank third on the team in that category.
►IN THE POLLS: Since posting its 3-2 win over tenth-ranked Ohio State March 18, the Ball State men's volleyball team has received votes in each of the last three AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Polls . . . BSU's highest vote total was nine in the March 19 poll, making it the first team outside the top 15.