MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball team will host the New Jersey Institute of Technology Thurs., Mar. 20 in Worthen Arena at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals are on an eight-match winning streak heading into the match and are ranked first in the MIVA in blocks per set and digs per set.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (15-5, 5-2 MIVA) are on an eight-match winning streak after picking up three wins last week against then-No. 12 IPFW, Lees McRae and Harvard. Ball State ranks first in the MIVA in blocks per set (2.92) and digs per set (9.85) while senior middle attacker Matt Leske leads the conference with 1.47 blocks per set.
Ball State is hitting a .263 hitting percentage for the season while it is holding opponents to a .182 clip. Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski has 232 kills on the season for a 3.52 kills per set average while senior middle attackers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske and junior outside attacker Shane Witmer have tallied over 100 kills on the season.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine has dished out 633 assists and has registered 24 aces and 100 digs. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer leads the digging for the Cardinals with 174 on the season while Witmer and Niemczewski also have eclipsed 100 digs.
We Can Go The Distance
Ball State is a perfect 3-0 this season when the match goes to the fifth set. The Cardinals picked up their third 3-2 win over the season in a thriller against Harvard Sun., Mar. 16 in Worthen Arena. Senior middle attacker Matt Leske and junior outside attacker Matt Sutherland each notched career highs in kills with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Senior setter Graham McIlvaine dished out a career-high 56 assists while sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski registered his second double double of the season with 17 kills and 10 digs.
The Highlanders (8-9, 2-6) are in the midst of a six-match road swing that includes matches against MIVA teams IPFW, Lindenwood, Ball State and Grand Canyon. NJIT is 2-7 this season on the road.
NJIT is led offensively by Jabarry Goodridge leads the offense with 3.33 kills per set and has 173 kills on the season. Setter Zak Robben has dished out 513 assists on the year for a 9.33 assists per set. Libero Oren Zyndorf gets under 2.40 digs per set for a total of 115 this season. NJIT manages 1.83 blocks per set led by Ryan Thomas’ 0.88 blocks per set. For the season, the Highlanders are hitting .253 while opponents are registering a .264 clip.
Series with NJIT
Thursday’s match against the Highlanders will be mark the seventh meeting between the two programs. Ball State holds a 6-0 advantage in the series that dates back to the 1990 season. Last season, the Cardinals traveled to New Jersey and picked up a 29-27, 28-26, 20-25, 25-16 win. Greg Herceg led the Cardinals with 20 kills in the match while Kevin Owens added 11 kills. Graham McIlvaine tallied a double-double in the match with 51 assists and 10 digs.
Head coach Joel Walton is one win away from registering his 300th career win at Ball State. Walton has tallied a 299-159 mark in his 16 seasons at the helm of the Cardinals.
Pass That My Way
Four Cardinals passed perfectly last week in matches against then-No. 12 IPFW, Lees McRae and Harvard to help Ball State earn the top the top digging average in the MIVA. Against the Mastodons, junior outside attacker Shane Witmer passed 33 balls without an error for 10 digs, while senior outside attacker Larry Wrather also registered 10 digs off 14 perfect passes. Against Lees McRae, Witmer passed 28 balls for a season-high 13 digs while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer passed 19 balls for 15 digs. In the win over Harvard, junior outside attacker Matt Sutherland passed 14 balls for nine digs, one shy of completing a double-double. Ball State’s 9.85 digs per set average is first in the conference and sixth in the nation.
The fourth set of the Lees McRae match on Sat., Mar. 15 saw Ball State make a rally scoring era record. The 25-3 win in the fourth set was the largest margin of victory that the Cardinals have had since the 2000 season. In a match vs. Long Island South Hampton on Jan. 15, 2000 Ball State won 15-2, 15-3, 12-15, 15-0.