No. 12 Men's Volleyball Hosts No. 11 Lewis
MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball team snapped its 10-match winning streak at the hands of No. 1 Loyola in a tough 3-2 loss in Chicago on Thursday evening (23-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 16-14). The Cardinals welcome No. 11 Lewis in a key MIVA match on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals (17-6, 6-3 MIVA) snapped its 10-match winning streak at the hands of No. 1 Loyola in a tough 3-2 loss in Chicago. Senior middle attacker Kevin Owens and junior outside attacker Shane Witmer tallied 12 kills each while sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski added 10 kills. Senior setter Graham McIlvaine had a career-high seven kills to go with 38 assists, eight digs and five blocks. Senior Matt Leske picked up eight kills to go with a match-high nine blocks.
Ball State leads the MIVA in blocks per set (2.88) and digs per set (10.32). Senior middle attacker Matt Leske leads the conference and is second in the nation with his 1.51 blocks per set average while junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer is first in the MIVA and sixth in the country with his 2.65 digs per set average.
Ball State is hitting a .263 attack percentage for the season while holding opponents to a .188 clip. Sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski has 268 kills on the season for a 3.39 kills per set average while senior middle attackers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske, red-shirt senior outside attacker Larry Wrather and junior outside attacker Shane Witmer have each tallied over 100 kills on the season.
Senior setter Graham McIlvaine has dished out 754 assists and has registered 29 aces and 122 digs. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer leads the digging for the Cardinals with 223 on the season while Witmer and Niemczewski also have eclipsed 100 digs.
The Flyers (16-6, 6-3 MIVA) picked up a crucial conference win on Thursday night with a 3-2 win over No. 14 IPFW in Romeoville. Greg Petty and Geoff Powell led Lewis with 27 and 24 kills each. Setter BJ Boldog dished out 56 assists while Lucas Yanez and Eric Fitterer each got under 12 digs. Lewis hit .357 for the night to IPFW’s .270.
The Flyers were on a five-match winning streak prior to the last four matches which they have split 2-2 having dropped contests to No. 1 Loyola and Penn State.
Series with Lewis
Ball State holds the 29-22 advantage in the series with Lewis that dates back to the 1994 season. The Cardinals are 16-8 against the Flyers in Worthen Arena including a 3-1 last season on Apr. 11.
The Last Time Out
The Cardinals dropped a 3-0 decision to the Flyers earlier this season in Romeoville. Ball State hit a .091 for the match with sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski picking up eight kills while senior middle attackers Kevin Owens and Matt Leske combined for eight kills. Lewis hit a blistering .424 clip led by Greg Petty’s staggering .739 hitting percentage (18-1-23).
Stuck In The Middle With You
All-American middle attackers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens are both hitting at over .400 for the season at .427 and .411, respectively. The seniors have a combined 283 kills on the year. The two also head up the blocking for the Cardinals with 20 total blocks between the two this season. Leske has had 13 matches this season with at least five blocks. Owens, who is coming off a season-high 16 kills against then-No. 15 Ohio State, has hit .554 in the last six matches including a .800 clip against the Buckeyes. Owens has only committed six errors in his last 85 swings.
The Doctor Is In
Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under a career-high 23 digs against NJIT to set a rally-scoring era school record for most digs in a four-set match. The count marked the second time this season Vander Meer had tallied over 20 kills. The libero has tallied double digit digs in 10 matches, including the last six. For his efforts against NJIT and Ohio State, Vander Meer earned his second MIVA Defensive Player of the Week honor.
Sophomore outside hitter Marcin Niemczewski has recorded two double-doubles in a stretch of three matches. Against Harvard on Sun., Mar. 16, the sophomore registered 17 kills and 10 digs. The Vernon Hills, Ill., native followed up that performance with 13 kills and 15 digs against then-No. 15 Ohio State on Sun., Mar. 23.
Head coach Joel Walton made history and won his 300th-career win on Thurs., Mar. 20 with Ball State’s 3-1 win over NJIT.
For the most up-to-date news on Ball State men’s volleyball, follow @bsuathletics and @BallStateMVB on Twitter. The team is also on Instagram at @ballstatemvb.