MUNCIE, Ind. - The No. 15 Ball State men’s volleyball team heads on the road this weekend to take on George Mason and Princeton. The Cardinals are coming off an exciting 3-2 win at then-No. 14 IPFW which propelled them into the AVCA Coaches Poll. Sophomore outside hitter Marcin Niemczewski was named the Sport Sports Imports/AVCA Division I-II Men’s National Player of the Week while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer earned MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (3-3) are coming off an exciting 3-2 thriller over then-No. 14 IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind. Three Cardinals earned double-doubles on the night led by sophomore outside hitter Marcin Niemczewski who had a near triple double with 22 kills, 16 digs and eight blocks (all career highs). Junior outside attacker Shane Witmer had 10 kills and 10 digs while senior setter Graham McIlvaine tallied 49 assists and 10 digs.
Ball State is ranked seventh in the nation with its 2.93 blocks per set average with Matt Leske with the eight-best average in the country at 1.38. Marcin Niemczewski is 10th in the nation in kills per set at 3.85.
Scouting George Mason
The Patriots are 2-2 on the season having most recently defeated Barton 3-1. Outside hitters Radoslav Popov and Jack Wilson lead the offense for George Mason with 47 and 46 kills each this season. Libero Dave Lucas heads up the digging category with 32 this year, although there are six Patriots who have double-digit digs on the season. Middle blockers Hunter Stevens, Graham Gresham and Dom Edgley all overage over one block per set on the year led by Stevens whose 1.57 blocks per set average is the third-best in the nation.
Series with George Mason
Ball State leads George Mason in the all-time series between the two squads 40-26. The series between both schools dates back to the 1980 season. The teams last met in the 2012 season and the squads split their regular season match ups with George Mason taking the last meeting 19-25, 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 14-16 in Muncie. Ball State is 12-10 at George Mason.
The Tigers are 0-2 on the year having dropped contests to California Baptist and Concordia this year. This weekend will mark the first weekend of competition at Princeton’s home Dillon Gym. In the two matches this season Pat Schwagler and Devin Stearns have tallied 29 and 26 kills each. Schwagler is dangerous at the service line as he has knocked in seven service aces so far on the year for a 0.88 aces per set average which ranks third in the nation. Princeton puts up 3.31 blocks per set with five Tigers averaging over one block per set led by Junior Oboh whose 1.38 blocks per set average puts him ninth in the country.
Series with Princeton
Saturday’s match marks only the fifth time these two schools have played each other. The first meeting between the two programs ended in a tie during the 1977 season. Ball State has won the other three matches with the most recent win coming in the 2011 season when the Cardinals earned a 25-18, 25-14, 25-16 win at Princeton.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine has moved to seventh in program history in career assists after his 49 assists performance against IPFW. Heading into the match Friday McIlvaine has 2,193 career assists moving past Dave Carlson (2005-06) who finished his career with 2,153 assists. McIlvaine is 121 assists away from surpassing Jeff Robertson (1997-2000) who finished his career with 2,313 assists.
National Recognition - Feb, 4, 2014
Sophomore outside hitter Marcin Niemczewski was named Sports Imports/American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II Men’s National Player of the Week while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer earned MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Niemczewski is just the second MIVA player to earn national player of the week accolades this season, and is the first Ball State men’s volleyball player to earn the AVCA’s top weekly honor since Ethan Pheister picked it up during the 2010 season. The award marks the 13th time a BSU student-athlete has been recognized as the AVCA National Player of the Week.
Vander Meer earns the MIVA nod for the first time in his career and he is the first Cardinal to be recognized by the conference this season. The junior got under a career-high 22 digs against the Mastodons which was the first time a BSU men’s volleyball player had over 20 digs since Billy Ebel tallied 20 against Grand Canyon on Jan. 21, 2010.
Career Nights in Fort Wayne
Three Cardinals earned double doubles against the Mastodons on Jan. 31 and 11 career bests were set on the night. Marcin Niemczewski led the way earning career-highs in kills (22), attempts (50), assists (2), digs (16), assisted blocks (7) and total blocks (1). Matt Leske was credited with a career-high 10 assisted blocks and finished with a career-best 12 total blocks. Shane Witmer and Graham McIlvaine finished with career-highs in attack attempts with 35 and 13, respectively.
The Doctor Is In
Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under a career-high 22 digs against then-No. 14 IPFW. The junior passed 29 balls on the night committing only one error. Vander Meer has 88 passes this year for a .932 reception percentage.
The Cardinals are on Twitter at @BallStateMVB. Be sure to use the hashtag #BSUMVB all season long to join the conversation. The team also has a Facebook account, be sure to like “Ball State Men’s Volleyball” for updates and pictures.