No. 7 Ball State Escapes With Win Over IPFW


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Muncie, Ind. - The seventh-ranked Ball State men's volleyball team escaped Worthen Arena with thrilling 3-2 (32-34, 23-30, 30-23, 30-28, 15-11) come-from-behind victory over visiting IPFW Friday evening, marking the club's 10th-straight victory.

With the win, the Cardinals remain tied with No. 10 Ohio State for the top spot in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with identical 8-1 league records. Ball State, who is 15-6 overall this season, currently holds the tiebreaker with a Buckeyes having won the first meeting between the two clubs.

IPFW, who was the runner-up in last season's NCAA Men's Volleyball Tournament, dropped to 9-9 (3-5 MIVA) with the loss.

"I am real pleased we learned our lesson tonight and still came out with a win," said Ball State head coach Joel Walton. "We started out so flat and I think the guys expected IPFW to go away. However, IPFW played us tough all night long and gave us all we could handle."

We had a chance to put away the first game, as we were up 29-24, but at the end we could not put a ball down. Then we came back and played a lackluster second game. Thank goodness we found ourselves in games three, four and five and started playing like the Ball State team we have always enjoyed watching this year."

Senior Patrick Durbin (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) was the spark plug for the Cardinals on offense, recording a career-high 29 kills, including the eventual match-winner.

Fellow Louisville native Todd Chamberlain (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) added 19 kills in the contest, including the game-four winner, while Marcus Imwalle (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local H.S.) smashed 16 kills, including the game-three winner, in addition to recording a career-high and match-best 15 digs.

BSU sophomore setter Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) nearly collected a triple-double in the contest, scoring career-highs of 75 assists and 10 blocks, while adding eight digs and three kills.

As a team, the Cardinals collected 21.5 total blocks, with Pheister becoming the third different BSU player to log 10-or-more blocks in a match this season.

Freshman J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) added nine blocks in the win, while junior Matt McCarthy (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South H.S.) and Durbin each scored six.

Senior Ian Peckler (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills H.S.), who recorded a season-high 21 digs in the first meeting with IPFW, added 11 in tonight's contest.

After playing to a 12-12 tie in the opening stanza, the Cardinals rallied off three straight points, on an Imwalle kill and a solo block and kill from Pheister, to pull ahead 15-12. Ball State pulled ahead by five at 25-20 and reached game point at 29-24.

However, the Mastodons answered with a 5-0 rally, capped by a kill from C.J. Macias - - who paced IPFW with 21 kills - - to tie the score at 29-29. After another Pheister kill, a triple block by the visitors and a BSU attack error gave IPFW game point at 31-30.

Back-to-back kills from Durbin looked to swing the momentum back to the Cardinals side of the net, but a Macias kill, a block assist (from Jason Yhost and Oliver Kook) and a BSU attack error gave the Mastodons a 34-32 opening game victory.

The Cardinals came out strong in the second game, as a pair of Gasparovic kills helped the hosts build a 4-2 advantage. The lead was short-lived, however, as IPFW rallied off the next four points and never trailed the rest of the way in the set. Brock Ullrich came through with the game-two winner at 30-23.

IPFW looked poised to end the night in three, scoring four of the first five points in the third game, however a Chamberlain kill sparked a 7-1 BSU run, putting the Cardinals ahead 8-5. After the Mastodons tied the game at 8-8, a Durbin marker started an 11-6 Ball State run, giving the hosts a 19-14 advantage.

The Cardinals took an eight-point lead at 27-19 on another pair of back-to-back Durbin kills, while McCarthy gave BSU a 28-20 led. A third Durbin smash to the Worthen Arena hardwood floor gave BSU game-point at 29-21, while an Imwalle marker ended the game at 30-23.

Game four was another close battle, with the teams playing to a 23-23 tie. Once again, it was a Durbin kill that sparked the Cardinals, as they rallied off the next three points - - including a block assist (Gasparovic and Imwalle) - - to pull ahead 26-23.

Ball State took a four point lead at the 28-24 mark on a Chamberlain kill, while an IPFW service error gave BSU game-point at 29-25. Much like the first game, the Mastodons would not lose without a fight, scoring the next three points, before another Chamberlain kill ended the frame at 30-28.

Chamberlain also started the fifth game strong, making a solo block on a Yhost attack to open the stanza and help the Cardinals build a 6-3 advantage. After leading 8-6 at the court switch, BSU played to a 10-7 lead moments later after kills from Durbin and Chamberlain.

However, the visitors from up I-69 rallied off the next three points to tie the frame at 10-all. There would be no denying the Cardinals their 10th-straight win, however, as BSU rallied off five of the final six points, starting with a dynamite blast from McCarthy and ending with back-to-back bombs from the Louisville duo.

Overall, the Cardinals held a .300 (83-32-170) to .240 (72-32-167) attacking edge in the contest, including a .588 (11-1-17) rate of success in the fifth frame. The Cardinals also held a 53-to-47 lead in digs. IPFW out-aced the BSU 7-to-0.

The Ball State men's volleyball team will hunt for its 11th-straight win Saturday night, when Quincy visits Worthen Arena for another 7:30 p.m. league showdown.

"We are winding down MIVA play," added Walton. "We have got other tough matches as well. We have got to figure out how to get through those without wearing down our guys."

We will put our focus on Quincy tomorrow night and we have to take care of business in those [MIVA] matches so we can host the conference tournament. That is our ultimate goal and what we keep pushing and working hard for."

Article courtesy of Ball State athletics.

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