COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ball State men’s volleyball team dropped a heartbreaker to the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (28-26, 25-22, 25-19, 25-23) Sunday afternoon at St. John Arena. Senior outside hitter Greg Herceg and sophomore outside hitter Shane Witmer each tallied double-digit kills while junior setter Graham McIlvaine registered a double-double.
Herceg led the match with 18 kills while Witmer added 10 kills. McIlvaine tallied his second double-double of the season and seventh of his career off 45 assists and a career-high 13 digs. Junior libero Tommy Rouse got under 17 digs while middle blockers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske each recorded a solo block and five assisted blocks.
The Cardinals trailed in the first set but used defense to get back in. Two triple blocks and a solo block by Owens brought the Cardinals to within two, 20-18. A heads up play from McIlvaine to dig the ball gave way to a Witmer kill to bring BSU to within one. The score would get knotted up several times down the stretch, but the Buckeyes came out on top 28-26.
Ball State led by as many as seven twice in the second set, 18-11 and 20-13. Ohio State mounted an 8-2 run to tie the set at 22-all. Herceg managed a dig that set up a Witmer kill to give the Cardinals a one-point advantage. A Herceg kill and a Buckeye attack error would give the Cardinals the 25-22 set win.
Ohio State hit a .297 clip (17-6-37) to Ball State’s .222 (12-4-36) in the third set. The Cardinals were not able to outlast an offensive explosion from the Buckeyes’ Chen Levitan and Andrew Lutz and fell 25-19.
The Cardinals led by as many as six early on in the fourth set, but the Buckeyes managed a comeback and took the lead 21-20. Back-to-back kills by Herceg knotted up the match at 23. The match ended on a Cardinal attack error.
With the loss the Cardinals fall to 8-3 on the year and 3-3 in the MIVA, while the Buckeyes improve to 10-2 and 4-0 in league action.
Ball State next travels to Chicago next weekend to play matches against No. 14 Lewis on Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., and (RV) Loyola on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. You can keep track of the team on Twitter at @BallStateMVB or on Facebook at “Ball State Men’s Volleyball”. As always, ballstatesports.com is the official site of Ball State Athletics.