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Ball State men upset No. 7 Lewis in volleyball

By TYLER ROPER BSU Athletic Department

MUNCIE — The Ball State men’s volleyball team was dialed in from the opening serve as it fought hard for five sets to upset No. 7 Lewis in the season’s final regular-season match at Worthen Arena Saturday afternoon.

The win pushed Ball State’s overall record to 13-11 and improved its MIVA mark to 4-5. Lewis saw its 11 match winning streak snapped and fell to 18-5 while also losing its first MIVA contest of the year and dropping to 9-1 in league play.

“We’ve got a great group of kids that are capable of fighting and playing high-level volleyball, and that’s what we did tonight,” said head coach Joel Walton. “We want to build on this because we’ve got a mountain to climb with five matches on the road to end the season, but I feel like we’re continuing to improve. I like this team’s chances as we continue moving forward.”

Ball State compiled 65 kills to Lewis’ 53 and outhit the Flyers .268 to .226. Eight service aces helped BSU pull the upset while holding Lewis to only two. BSU also finished with nine blocks as a team and racked up 64 digs.

The Cardinals stormed out of the gate in the opening set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Lewis fought back to tie the game at 11 apiece, but six kills from Matt Szews ensured that BSU never trailed in the set as it went on to win it 25-21.

The second set was by far the most thrilling of the match as it went extras and featured comebacks from both teams. Lewis secured an early four-point lead and held it until the Cardinals fought back to tie things up at 19 all. BSU earned a set point with the score 24-23, but the Flyers fought it off and did so two more times before going on to even the match with a 29-27 set victory.

Lewis carried the momentum into game three and raced out to a 10-2 advantage. Walton responded by subbing in Blake Reardon and Kaleb Jenness from his bench, and the duo helped the Cardinals make up some ground. Ball State trimmed the deficit to two at 17-15, but that’s as close as it would get as the Flyers ran away to win, 25-16.

Ball State took its turn with a big lead in set four as it went up 9-2 early on. Lewis responded with a few points, but the Cardinals dominated the rest of the set. BSU ripped off a 7-0 run late in the set to put it out of reach, and sent the match to a decisive fifth set with a 25-12 victory.

The momentum carried with the Cardinals into the final set as they led 8-5 when the teams switched sides. After another point, Lewis responded with two straight to cut the lead in half and make it a 9-7 ballgame. Ball State took a timeout and drew up a kill for Szews to keep the Flyers at bay. Parker Swartz then put down a kill and combined with Quinn Isaacson for a block on the next play to put BSU up 12-8 and force a Lewis timeout. Szews struck an ace out of the timeout to put the Cardinals a point closer and followed it with a kill, then Swartz hit the match-clinching kill on an assist from Isaacson to finish off the upset by winning the final set, 15-10.

Szews led the way for Ball State with 21 kills on the match while Ben Chinnici and David Siebum both hit double figures with 11 and 10, respectively. Isaacson’s 55 assists were a match high, and Szews led the team in service aces with three. Swartz led the Cardinals in blocking with six, and Chinnici had a team-high 13 digs.

Ball State now hits the road for its final five matches of the regular season. The first is Tuesday at Purdue Fort Wayne where the Cardinals will attempt to defeat another team they lost to earlier in the year.