MUNCIE, Ind. – The No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball dropped another tough 3-2 match this time at the hands of No. 11 Lewis (22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-13). Senior middle attacker Matt Leske picked up 12 kills and a career-high-tying 12 blocks while senior setter Graham McIlvaine dished out 54 assists and picked up 11 digs.
With the loss Ball State falls to 17-7 on the year and 6-4 in MIVA play. Lewis improves to 17-6 on the season and 7-3 in the conference. The victory gave the Flyers sole possession of second place in the league standings.
Ball State’s middle attack of Leske and Kevin Owens picked up a combined 21 of the Cardinals’ 62 kills. Leske had 12 kills and a career-high-tying 12 blocks while Owens registered nine kills, four digs and six blocks. Owens had a .400 hitting percentage (9-3-15) while Leske managed a .320 clip (12-4-25).
Sophomore Marcin Niemczewski picked up 15 kills to go with nine digs and eight blocks while junior Matt Sutherland tallied 13 kills and five blocks. Junior outside hitter Shane Witmer had eight kills on the night to go with 10 digs and five blocks.
Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer got under a team-high 14 digs and passed 41 balls with only one reception error. McIlvaine had a near triple-double with his 54 assists, 11 digs and seven blocks.
The Cardinals started off the match hot with 16.5 blocks through the first two sets to finish with 22.5 for the match. The first set saw 10 tied scores and two lead changes as Ball State hit a match-high .424 attack percentage (17-3-33) while Lewis registered a .312 clip (16-6-32). Ball State called the first timeout of the set after Lewis took a 13-10 lead off a Greg Petty kill. Back-to-back blocks by the Cardinals would get Ball State to within one, 15-14. Ball State would rely on its block to get the set tied at 18-18. Kills by Niemczewski and Sutherland would give Ball State the 21-19 advantage. A kill from Witmer would set up the eventual set-point-winning kill from Owens to give the Cardinals the 25-22 set win.
Ball State’s 10 total team blocks in the second set forced Lewis to hit a dismal .026 clip (13-12-39). A McIlvaine-Owens block followed by a Witmer-Owens block would give Ball State a 5-4 lead and it was all BSU after that. Six Cardinals registered kills in the set and only two errors were committed by Ball State. Leske assisted on five blocks while Niemczewski got a solo and three assisted blocks.
Coming out of the intermission, the Flyers relied on the arm of Geoff Powell as he had eight kills off 12 swings in the set. Powell also led Lewis in the set with six digs. Ball State committed eight attack errors and three service errors in the set and hit a .088 percentage in the frame (11-8-34). Lewis went on a key 7-1 run to take an 11-8 lead and did not look back.
The Cardinals led early in the fourth set taking a 7-3 lead causing the Flyers to burn their first timeout. Ball State’s first seven points of the frame came off three kills from Leske, two kills from Witmer, a Leske-McIlvaine block and a Lewis attack error. The Flyers would push back forcing six attack errors to take the 17-14 lead in the set. A kill from freshman outside attacker Brendan Surane and a McIlvaine-Owens block would get the Cardinals to within one point, 21-20. The teams would trade points and Ball State would get within one point, 23-22, off a kill from Surane. The Lewis offense continued to run through Powell who netted two of his nine kills of the set in the final points to give the Flyers the 25-23 set win.
The fifth set was back and forth with the score tied eight times and two lead changes. At the switch Lewis lead 8-6, but Ball State would go on a three-point run to tie the set at 9-9. With the set tied at 10-10, Leske would knock in a service ace followed by a kill from Owens to give Ball State a 12-10 advantage. A Ball State service error followed by a kill and an ace from Powell would give Lewis the 13-12 lead. Owens would knot up the set at 13-13 before Lewis’ Eric Fitterer would tally a kill to set up the Flyer’s match-winning block.
Red-shirt junior outside hitter Geoff Powell had a stellar night for the Flyers with a career-high 32 kills off a .406 hitting percentage (32-6-64). Powell picked up 13 digs and added three blocks, an assist and an ace. Red-shirt senior setter BJ Boldog dished out 59 assists and junior libero Lucas Yanez got under a match-high 15 digs.
The team is headed on its final road trip of the regular season when it travels to Phoenix to take on Grand Canyon. The matches are set for Fri., Apr. 4 and Sat., Apr. 5 at 9 p.m. ET.
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.