PHOENIX – No. 12 Ball State men’s volleyball completed the season sweep of the Grand Canyon Antelopes after taking a 3-1 win Saturday evening (25-21, 27-25, 22-25, 25-23). Freshman outside attacker Brendan Surane tallied a career-high 17 kills while sophomore outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski made a late offensive push with nine kills.
With the win Ball State improves to 19-7 on the year and 8-4 in MIVA action while Grand Canyon falls to 14-15 on the year and 2-10 in league play.
Surane got the start for the Cardinals and put down 17 kills off 38 swings. Junior outside attacker Shane Witmer and senior middle attacker Kevin Owens each tallied nine kills while Niemczewski tallied nine in the final set. Seniors Matt Leske, Graham McIlvaine and Larry Wrather each recorded five kills on the night.
Leske had a career-high-tying three service aces to go with eight blocks and two digs. Wrather tied his career high in blocks with five to go with six digs. McIlvaine also got under six digs to go with his 51 assists. Junior libero David Ryan Vander Meer led the Cardinals with a match-high 13 digs.
The Antelopes jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to start the match prompting a Ball State timeout. The Cardinals regrouped and behind the serving of McIlvaine retook the lead at 11-9. From that point the set would be tied seven times with the last coming at 21-21 when Grand Canyon committed a service error. Witmer and Owens both connected on kills to get Ball State up 23-21 and a miscue from Grand Canyon’s Ben Ponnet gave the Cardinals a set point opportunity. Ball State would get the set off a ball handling error by Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon called the first timeout of the second set after four-straight Ball State points capped by a Leske-Surane-Witmer triple block to give the Cardinals a 12-7 advantage. The Antelopes did not go away and managed to tie the set at 14-14 after capitalizing off errors by the Cardinals. The teams went back and forth and Grand Canyon called its second timeout of the set off a kill from Wrather to give Ball State a 24-23 lead. The set would be tied at 24-24 and 25-25 before Ball State took the set off a kill from Surane and a service ace from Leske.
Errors by Ball State allowed Grand Canyon to come back and tie the third set at 12-12 after consecutive service aces. Six ties down the stretch made for a tight set, but the Antelopes were able to take the advantage off a kill from Ponnet to lead the set 22-21. Two kills and a Ball State attack error would avoid the sweep for Grand Canyon and send the match to the fourth.
Niemczewski was inserted into the lineup in the fourth set and made his presence felt with nine kills off 12 swings and no attack errors. The back and forth nature of the previous sets were present in the fourth frame with Ball State able to grab a 17-14 lead off a kill from Niemczewski and two errors by the Antelopes. Coming out of its first called timeout of the set Grand Canyon rattled off three-straight points to tie the set up at 17-17. A kill from Witmer would give Ball State a 23-21 lead, causing Grand Canyon to burn its final timeout of the set. Two kills from Ponnet and a kill from Wrather would give Ball State a match point opportunity. The match ended on a service error by the Antelopes.
Grand Canyon held the advantage in hitting percentage (.296 - .256), digs (42-35) and blocks (13-11), but the Antelopes’ 14 service errors proved costly down the stretch.
Ben Ponnet led the way for Grand Canyon with a match-high 28 kills while setter Keith Smith dished out 52 assists.
Ball State wraps up the regular season this Friday and Saturday at Worthen Arena. The match against Lindenwood is set for 7:30 p.m. on Fri., Apr. 4 while the match against Quincy is set for 4 p.m. on Sat., Apr. 5. Following the conclusion of the Quincy match Ball State’s five seniors will be recognized. The matches will be televised via Ball State Sports Link.
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.