The Ball State men's volleyball team celebrates after winning the third and final set of the game against Ohio State on Feb. 21 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO ALAINA JAYE HALSEY
Men's volleyball returns experienced players in upcoming season
With the fall preseason tournaments over, and the regular season quickly approaching, the Ball State men’s volleyball has less than one month to prepare for its home-opening match on Jan. 8 against Stanford.
Head coach Joel Walton will be returning several players this season who will look to make an impact from the first set of the season.
Upcoming Home Schedule
Jan 8 - vs. Stanford @ 7:30 PM
Jan 9 - vs. Alderson Broaddus @ 7:30 PM
Jan 14 - Sacred Heart @ 7:30 PM
Jan 15 - Harvard @ 7:30 PM
Senior Hiago Garchet will once again lead the team at the setter position this season. The Brazil native recorded 852 sets in the 2014-15 season while earning Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Defensive Player of the Week on Mar. 3.
“We need him to continue to improve his set consistency — ask him to set a quicker tempo, especially to the left-side attackers — and also a ball that we call a 'bic,' which is a ball that’s attacked out of the back row in the middle of the court," head coach Joel Walton said. "We're really trying to improve our offense in those two places.” Walton said.
Garchet currently Ranks 10th in Ball State history in career assists-per-set averaging 7.69.
“Hiago’s done a very good job through the fall improving his location and tempo on those sets,” Walton said.
Sophomore Matt Walsh will be starting at the net this season. The Chicago native competed with the U.S. Men’s National Team in September and put up record numbers last season.
As a freshman, the 6-foot-11 middle attacker averaged 1.39 blocks per set during the 2015 season, which was third in the nation.
“He gives us the ability to match up one of our players with another team's strong middle attacker or outside attacker,” Walton said.
Walsh also holds a record in the Cardinal history book. He earned 14 total blocks in two matches laast season (Sacred heart and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne), which ties for first in rally scoring in the Ball State record book.
“Because of his height, and his experience and his ability, he does a very good job disrupting attackers ... He can really affect a players ability to get the shots they want to hit,” Walton said.
Starting outside attacker Brendan Surane put up record numbers last year as well. The junior from Lockport, Ill. recorded a team-high 30 aces in the 2015 season as a middle attacker. Surane will be starting at a new position this season, playing on the left side of the net.
“Surane’s transitioning for the second time in his career, last year he went from being a right-side attacker to being a middle, this year from middle to left-side attacker,” Walton said.
As a left-side attacker Surane now has to pass, serve and receive. As a right-side attacker, Surane did not have to pass, serve and receive but rather attack and block balls.
The coaching staff's confidence in Surane led to another position change.
“The change in Surane came from our coaching staff feeling he’s one of the better arms on our team ... as a middle attacker, we were going to be limited in the number of times that we can send him the ball," Walton said. "So in moving Surane to the left side, our primary thought process was [that] we wanted to get him to where he was going to be able to swing at more balls and have a bigger role in our team's offense.”
In the 2015 season Surane was named to the Academic All-MIVA team and was the only cardinal to appear in all 100 sets the team played.
“My feeling is he has the ability to dominate in that position and really be a game-changer in many of the matches that we play.” Walton said.
Senior outside attacker Marcin Niemczewski is entering his third season as a starter under coach Walton. He is one of 10 Cardinals from Illinois and led the team in kills the past two seasons with 320 in 2014 and 240 in 2015.
“He’s probably been our most consistent starter the last three years,” Walton said. “He is a guy that we run a lot of our offense through.”
In February 2014, Niemczewski was named National Player of the Week becoming the first Cardinal to earn the honor since 2010, and one of 13 Cardinals ever to be named National Player of the Week.
“What we need for [Niemczewski] to do this year is to take that next step in his ability to terminate the ball and to be successful against a variety of different defenses that teams are going to throw in his direction,” Walton said.
Over the holiday break, the men's volleyball team will return to campus early to prepare the season opening match against Stanford on Jan. 8 at Worthen Arena.