No. 15 Ball State Tops Grand Canyon

3/7/2009

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PHOENIX, Ariz. - The No. 15 Ball State men's volleyball team posted its eighth-straight victory with a 3-1 (30-20, 30-23, 27-30, 30-12) win over Grand Canyon University Saturday evening at Antelope Gym in Phoenix, Ariz.

The Cardinals, who improved to 9-4 this season, has won nine of their last 10 matches after a 0-3 start. The Antelopes drop to 2-17 with the loss.

Todd Chamberlain (Louisville, Ky./Trinity H.S.) was the night's top attacker, racking up a career-high tying 20 kills. It was the second time this season and the third time in his career the senior had smashed 20 kills in a contest. He also added eight digs, three blocks and an ace in the victory.

Also having a solid offensive night for the BSU offense was J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) who racked up 12 kills and a .800 (12-0-15) attack percentage. He also added a match-best eight block assists, as the Cardinals held a 16.5 to 8.0 blocks-per-game average.

Ethan Pheister (Shorewood, Wis./Shorewood H.S.) set the Ball State offense to a .383 (68-19-128) rate of success in the match, including a dominating .692 (18-0-26) mark in the fourth game. Pheister also tallied seven block assists on the night.

Overall, the BSU defense limited the Antelopes to a .094 (43-31-127) attack percentage in the match, with Tyson Crandell leading the team with 10 kills and Tyler Griffin adding nine.

Defensively, Ball State's Billy Ebel (Lenexa, Kan./Bishop Miege H.S.) paced all players with 14 digs, while Matt Sprague (Ballwin, Mo./Marquette H.S.) posted eight, to go along with nine kills. Clayton Hall was GCU's top defender with nine digs.

Pheister started the match with a service ace to help BSU jump out to a 7-1 advantage in the opening set.  From there, the Cardinals claimed their first 10-point lead at the 16-6 mark on a Gasparovic kill. Ball State's largest lead of the set, 13 points, came at the 22-9 mark off a GCU attack error.

Grand Canyon University was able to draw within nine at the 27-18 mark on a block assists from Hall and Brennan Zotovich. However, BSU rallied off three of the next five points to win the frame 30-20.

The second game saw the Antelopes come out strong, building a five-point lead at the 13-8 mark and forcing the Cardinals to call their first timeout of the night. A Hall marker at the 17-12 mark kept the lead at five, before kills from Sprague and Chamberlain helped spark at 7-2 BSU run that tied the set at 19.

A Crandell kill gave the host one more lead at the 20-19 mark, but two errors and a Chamberlain kill gave BSU the lead for good at 22-20. The lead remained two at the 25-23 mark before a GCU service error and two Chamberlain kills pushed the score to 28-23. An Andy Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S) kill, one of eight on the night for the sophomore transfer, and a block assist from Chamberlain and Nelson ended the frame moments later at 30-23.

The third game was another back-and-forth battle with 14 ties and seven lead changes. The teams opened the game playing to a 10-10 tie, before the Antelopes pulled ahead by four points at 18-14. The Cardinals railed back to score five of the next six points and tie the game at 19. During the run, Chamberlain tagged two kills and Nelson added one, while Pheister and Gasparovic combined for a block assist.

The score remained tied at the 25-25 mark, before three-straight Ball State errors pushed the score to 28-25. A block assists from Pheister and Nelson stopped the momentum for a moment, but kills from Crandell and Chris Bradshaw gave GCU the set at 30-27.

Ball State responded from the third-game loss with its best set of the night, posting a .692 attack percentage with 18 kills and no errors on 26 attempts. Sprague started the set with kills on two of the first three plays, while Chamberlain posted eight kills in the game. BSU pulled ahead by 10 points at the 15-5 mark before winning the game 30-12 on Sprague's fourth kill of the frame.

The Ball State and Grand Canyon University will square off for the second time in less than 24 hours Sunday, with a 1 p.m. (MST) first serve.

Article courtesy of Ball State athletics.

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