Senior Kevin Owens and sophomore Jack Lesure compete in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament last season. DN FILE PHOTO JORDAN HUFFER
MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Preseason All-Americans highlight volleyball team
With about a month remaining until the start of the men’s volleyball regular season, two Ball State players have set high expectations.
Middle attackers Matt Leske and Kevin Owens were named second-team preseason All-American by Off The Block/Springback. The two seniors had strong campaigns last season.
Leske finished with 1.43 blocks per set, which was second in the country. Although he was fifth on the team in kills, he ended the season with a .365 hitting percentage. He had 10 blocks in two separate games last season, against Sacred Heart and Grand Canyon.
Leske has been named All-MIVA Second Team for the previous two seasons and also was named to the 2013 Volleyball Magazine NCAA All-American Third Team.
Owens had a .402 hitting percentage, also second in the nation. He finished with 191 kills, third most on the team. He was one of Ball State’s strongest blockers throughout the season, tallying 104 blocking assists. He had his career-high in blocks last season against Quincy.
Owens was named to the All-MIVA Second Team in 2012 and the first team in 2013, along with being named to the 2013 Volleyball Magazine NCAA All-American Third Team.
Mcllvaine was Ball State’s starting setter last season and returns as a senior to anchor the position. He led the team in assists with 712 and had 9.62 per set, which is 18th nationally. He reached his season-high in assists against New Jersey Institute of Technology when he recorded 51 and had a career-high in digs against Limestone.
Although Mcllvaine wasn’t named an All-American, he received votes and could play an important role in the development of Hiago Garchet, a sophomore setter from Brazil who transferred to Ball State after playing at Park University last season.
Witmer finished last season fourth in kills with 144, hitting .166 throughout the season. His best match came against Quincy when he recorded a career-high 13 kills and added 12 digs, and he reached a career-high in digs in his next game against Lindenwood.
As an outside attacker, Witmer could be asked to play a more offensive role during the 2014 season now that offensive leaders Jamion Hartley and Greg Herceg graduated.