No. 9 Ball State Storms Past Mercyhurst


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Erie, Pa. - Not even this weekend's winter storm could slow down the No. 9 Ball State men's volleyball team, as it collected a 3-0 (30-23, 30-25, 30-27) sweep of Mercyhurst Saturday night at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center.

After nearly 11 hours of driving through blizzard conditions, the Cardinals picked up their ninth straight win - and 13th in the last 14 matches - in a little over an hour. The start of the match had to be pushed back an hour-and-a-half to accommodate BSU's travel woes.

"Our guys did a great job coming out and playing after a truly long day on the road," said Ball State head coach Joel Walton. "We appreciate Mercyhurst pushing the match time back so we could get tonight's contest in."

With the victory, BSU improves to 14-6 (7-1 MIVA) on the season and remains atop the league standings. Mercyhurst drops to 3-12 (0-5 MIVA) with the loss.

"Heading into spring break, we are in a very good position in the league standings," added Walton. "We have four important matches left to play, and hopefully a little time off will allow us to reenergize for a strong run down the stretch."

Matt McCarthy (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South H.S.) got the ball rolling for the Cardinals, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the attack line to score five of BSU's first six points. The reigning MIVA Player of the Week finished the contest with a team-high 13 kills, while hitting .800 (13-1-15).

J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) joined McCarthy in double figures with 10 kills, while Patrick Durbin (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) added 11. Gasparovic also added a match-high seven blocks.

Mercyhurst's Tim Wagner paced all players with 14 kills, while the Lakers' David Hatten added a match-best eight digs.

After a kill from MC's Dave Newman opened the match, McCarthy quickly responded with four-straight kills to help the Cardinals build a 5-1 advantage. BSU gained a seven-point edge at 27-20 on a kill from Marcus Imwalle (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local H.S.), before winning the game 30-23 on McCarthy's seventh kill of the frame.

Overall, BSU recorded 20 kills in the opening set and finished the frame hitting .361 (20-7-36). Ball State's middle attackers, McCarthy and Gasparovic combined for 10 of the 20 kills, while hitting a combined .642 (10-1-14).

Ball State's Todd Chamberlain (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) smashed the first marker of the second game, only to see the hosts rally off the next three points. BSU knotted the score at 5-5 on a marker from Gasparovic, and the teams eventually played to a 10-10 tie.

A solo block from Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) and a Chamberlain kill gave the Cardinals a 12-10 lead they did not relinquish the rest of the frame. With a 28-24 advantage, a Matt Sprague (Ballwin, Mo./Marquette) kill gave BSU game point, while a Mercyhurst attack error ended the game at 30-25.

The third set opened with the teams playing to a 9-9 tie, before a Ben Irwin (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) kill sparked a four-point Ball State run. The Cardinals built an 18-13 edge on a Durbin kill, only to see the Lakers rally off six of the next eight points to close within one at 20-19.

BSU's Mark Termion (Winfield, Ill./Wheaton North H.S.) and Irwin combined for a block assist to halt the Mercyhurst run, while a Mercyhurst attack error gave BSU a 22-19 lead.

A 4-1 Lakers run followed, tying the frame at 23-23. Gasparovic returned the momentum to the Cardinals' side of the court, combining with Pheister and Durbin for back-to-back blocks, while joining Termion three points later to give the Cardinals a 27-24 edge.

Kills from Justin Orr (Gladstone, Mo./Winnetonka H.S.) and Termion gave Ball State match-point at 29-26, before a Mercyhurst service error ended the game at 30-27 and the match at 3-0.

Overall, Ball State finished the night hitting .333 (55-21-102), while holding Mercyhurst to a .151 (39-23-106) rate of success. BSU also held a 35 to 22 edge in digs and a 9.0 to 8.0 advantage in total blocks.

The Ball State men's volleyball team will have almost two weeks to recover from this weekend's wild weather, as it returns to action March 21 with a home league match versus IPFW. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. at Worthen Arena.

Article courtesy of Ball State athletics.

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