MUNCIE, Ind. – Men’s volleyball head coach Joel Walton picked up his 300th career victory at Ball State when the No. 12 Ball State Cardinals defeated the NJIT Highlanders 3-1 (25-13, 21-25, 25-17, 25-19) Thursday evening at Worthen Arena. The win was Ball State’s ninth-straight victory.
With the win, Ball State improves to 16-5 on the season. The Cardinals are on an eight-match win streak at Worthen Arena, matching last season’s eight-match home winning streak down the stretch of the season. NJIT falls to 8-10 on the year.
Sophomore Marcin Niemczewski had 13 kills while red-shirt senior Matt Leske added nine kills off 13 swings for a .615 hitting percentage. Red-shirt senior Larry Wrather picked up eight kills while senior Kevin Owens registered six kills. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under a career-high 23 digs to lead the match. Senior Graham McIlvaine was one dig shy of completing his third double-double of the season as he had nine digs and 33 assists.
The Cardinals benefitted from 17 errors by the Highlanders from behind the service line. Ball State hit .259 (48-19-112) for the match while NJIT managed a .140 clip (44-24-143). The Cardinals got under 64 digs while the Highlanders picked up 45. Ball State also held the advantage in total team blocks, 11.5-8, led Leske’s seven blocks.
The Highlanders were led by Kajetan Borecki who had 14 kills while TJ Jurko and Ryan Thomas picked up 12 and 10 kills each.
The first set started off with the score tied four times before Ball State rattled off three-straight points to take a 13-10 lead into a NJIT timeout. The Cardinals would finish the set outscoring the Highlanders 12-3. Ball State earned five total team blocks in the set led by a solo block by Leske and McIlvaine. Niemczewski added four kills in the frame while Vander Meer picked up 10 digs.
NJIT started off hot in the second set scoring the first five points of the frame. The Cardinals would battle back to tie the score at 14-14, but it was not enough to hold the .367 hitting percentage of the Highlanders (13-2-30). Ball State hit .194 for the set (13-7-31) with Niemczewski picking up four more kills.
Leske scored Ball State’s first three points of the third set, ending the frame with five kills and two assisted blocks. Ball State dominated the attack with a match-best .407 clip (13-3-27) and held NJIT to a .200 hitting percentage (11-5-30).
The fourth frame saw the score tied five times along with three lead changes. Ball State picked up 20 digs in the fourth set led by Niemczewski and Vander Meer who each registered five digs. The match ended when McIlvaine found Owens for an emphatic kill. The Cardinals hit .267 on the set (12-4-30) while the Highlanders hit .130 (14-8-46).
Ball State returns to action Sun., Mar. 23 when it plays host to No. 15 Ohio State. The match between the two MIVA foes will begin at 4 p.m. Check ballstatesports.com for more news and information on Ball State men’s volleyball.