Record Home Crowd Watches No. 10 Ball State Top No. 7 UCLA


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Muncie, Ind. -With a Ball State men's volleyball Worthen Arena record 3,429 fans behind them, the No. 14-ranked Cardinals scored a thrilling 3-1 (23-30, 30-24, 30-19, 30-24) victory over No. 7 UCLA Friday evening.

With the win, the Cardinals improve to 11-6 overall after winning 10 of their last 11 matches. The Bruins drop to 10-8 with the loss.

"What a great crowd, what a great environment," Ball State head coach Joel Walton said about the record crowd. "The energy of the crowd and the environment was not only great for our guys, I think it made UCLA feel a little uneasy. It still had to be a fun place for them to come and play volleyball.

"I am really proud of the team for stepping up and competing in such an intense environment. We saw early on UCLA wanted to take away Pat and Todd. They were really dropping their blockers to the left side of the court and Ethan made some good adjustments and Marcus balanced out our offense. We needed Marcus to come up big tonight and he did a great job."

Freshman Marcus Imwalle (Maria Stein, Ohio/Marion Local) continued his solid play versus the Bruins, leading the Cardinals with 16 kills. Imwalle scored a career-high 17 kills in BSU's season-opening loss to UCLA. He also added a career-high six total blocks and a pair of aces

"I think Marcus benefited from UCLA scheming toward Todd and Pat and it opened up opportunities for him," continued Walton. "To his credit, he took advantage of those and put some balls away for us."

Fellow first-year player J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) also had a career-night in the victory, logging a personal-best 12 total blocks, while collecting nine kills and hitting .643 (9-0-14).

Defensively, Todd Chamberlain (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) collected a career-high 19 digs, while Ian Peckler (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills H.S.) added 14. Chamberlain also finished the night with nine kills and a match-high four service aces.

UCLA's Garrett Muagututia paced all players with 21 kills, while Tony Ker added a match-high 20 digs.

"We worked really hard for this," added Walton. "We've taken it on the chin three times the last couple of years from UCLA and to get one, it's especially nice to beat a team like that here at home.

"It's a real credit to Don Shondell and what he's done with this program, it's a credit to Muncie and it's a credit to Ball State for supporting the men's volleyball program here. I'm just real happy."

The Bruins looked determined to make it a quick night for the Cardinals, scoring the first four points of the opening set and never trailing. UCLA led by as many as 10 points at 17-7 before winning the game by seven, at 30-23, off a Muagututia kill.

Ball State responded to the opening game loss by scoring the first three points in game two and building a 4-1 advantage on a Gasparovic and Patrick Durbin (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) block assist.

The Bruins battled back to tie the set at 4-4, and eventually took an 8-7 advantage. The 19-time NCAA champions held a one-point edge at 16-15, before Chamberlain led a 4-0 BSU rally with a kill and back-to-back service aces.

After a UCLA attack error gave BSU a 26-21 edge, a kill from UCLA's Sean O'Malley and a pair of Cardinals' miscues pushed the score to 26-24 and forced Walton to call a timeout.

The break was well-timed, as the Bruins' Kevin Ker followed with a service error, only to see Imwalle follow with an ace to push the lead to 28-24. A triple block from Chamberlain, Matt McCarthy (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South H.S.) and Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) gave the Cardinals game point at 29-24.

Imwalle followed with his second service ace of the night to secure a 30-24 game two win for the Cardinals.

Ball State opened the third game with a kill from Imwalle, a block assists (Gasparovic and Imwalle) and a Durbin service ace, building a 5-0 advantage they did not relinquish.

Another Durbin service ace gave BSU its first 10-point advantage at 18-8, while an Imwalle kill set up game point at 29-19. Durbin followed with the game-winning kill at 30-19.

The Cardinals continued to carry the momentum in the fourth game, scoring the first five points for the second-straight game and never trailing. BSU built a six-point edge at 16-10 thanks to an Imwalle kill, and maintained the margin at the 21-15 mark.

A 7-3 run by the Bruins cut the advantage to two points at 24-22, but a Durbin kill and a block assists from Gasparovic and Pheister pushed the lead back to four and forced UCLA to use its final timeout.

After the stoppage, Gasparovic and Durbin combined for another block and gave BSU a 27-22 lead. UCLA score the next point, only to see a kill from Gasparovic and another BSU triple block (Durbin, Gasparovic and Imwalle) give the Cardinals match-point at 29-23.

The Bruins' Ryal Jagd gave the visitors some life, scoring a kill on the next play, but a strong defensive effort from the Cardinals force Ryal to hit the ball wild on the next play, giving Ball State the 30-24 game four win and a 3-1 match victory.

The win was just BSU's second in 24 matches versus UCLA, with the last win coming in 1995.

Overall, the Cardinals held a .162 (50-29-130) to .131 (56-36-153) attacking advantage, and out-block the Bruins 19.5-to-15.5. Ball State also scored 53 digs to UCLA's 42 and eight aces compared to three for UCLA.

The Cardinals and Bruins will conclude the 2008 Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge Saturday night with another 7:30 p.m. first serve.

Article courtesy of Ball State athletics.

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