MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State rallies past Grand Canyon
Antelopes take first set, Cardinals sweep next three for win
With just two serves from senior outside attacker Marcus Imwalle, Grand Canyon's upset bid was foiled.
Ball State rallied to a 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21) win over Grand Canyon Friday night in Worthen Arena, and two straight aces from Imwalle sparked the victory.
"I think it was pretty big, especially because we were struggling a little bit," Imwalle said on the aces "The game was close and I remember going back to the service line that I just wanted to put in [play] and it just went for me.
"In the first game I think we came out tense and in the second we still were tense. We just needed to relax a little bit."
Serving was a key to the Cardinals' win with eight aces on the night.
The Antelopes committed 19 service errors compared to the Cardinals' nine.
"They've been outside serving their opponents all year, so to come out here and out serve them was huge," Imwalle said.
Four different Cardinals had an ace, with Imwalle leading the way with four.
"Marcus has the ability when he's not making a lot of errors, to be a dominant attacker for us," coach Joel Walton said. "Because of the velocity he attacks with. I like Marcus' ball control I think he plays middle back row defense better than anybody on our team. We wanted to give those things a chance to work tonight."
Imwalle has been shuffled in the Cardinals line-up throughout the season, as he even played libero at one point. The senior is happy to finally settle in.
"It's nice to get out into a rhythm," Imwalle said. "For a while I
didn't know what position I was. It's nice to get into a position."
Ball State blew a 23-20 lead in the first set as Grand Canyon went on a 5-0 run to take the set. Walton didn't make any substitutions for the second set.
"We've been working with a different group of players this week in practice," Walton said. "Even though we didn't play very well in game one, we've seen some things out of that group that I wanted to take a better look at. I have confidence in our guys that we could turn around the match and we did that."
Outside attacker Larry Wrather led the match with 12 kills, and middle attacker Anders Nelson had 10.
Nelson credits the victory to freshman setter Graham McIlvaine.
"Graham and I were not connecting at all in our first game and we struggled with that," Nelson said. "But I was really proud of Graham. He was a different player in games three and four, and that shows a lot of maturity for a freshman."
Ball State will play Grand Canyon Saturday night, and Nelson says they won't take them for granted. The Antelopes are winless in Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association action.
"We've seen the underdogs sometimes have the advantage in night two, and we know that we need to bring more than we brought [Friday night]," Nelson said.
With the win, Ball State moves to 16-9 (5-4 MIVA) and is the No. 3 seed in the MIVA tournament. Lewis is only a half game back.
"I think there is a difference between those seeds primarily who you would play in the semi-finals, should you get through the quarterfinal match," Walton said. "I would rather be the three or the four.
Walton knows that no matter what seed the Cardinals get, they will have to play Loyola or Ohio State on the road in the MIVA tournament.
"It's likely, should we get through our quarterfinal match, we will have to beat Loyola at Loyola, and beat Ohio State at Ohio State." Walton said. "Those are going to be two pretty tall mountains to climb. When we went over there earlier this year our goal was to win on both of those courts. We were unable to do it then. Now we are going to have some other chances hopefully and do better this time around."