MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Ball State gets sweep against St. Francis

Cardinals respond with Friday's loss with Saturday win

It's become a trend this season for Ball State to consistently win against inferior opponents, but consistently lose against superior ones.

That trend didn't end this weekend.

Ball State swept Saint Francis 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-16) on the road Saturday. The win comes one night after Ball State was swept by Penn State.

After leaving University Park, Pa. Friday night, the Cardinals had few positives to take away from the game. Coach Joel Walton said that changed against Saint Francis.

"We served really well tonight," coach Joel Walton said. "We made it a lot harder for them to run their offense because their setter was pursuing a lot of balls that weren't right to target. It made it hard for them to get their middles involved."

The Ball State coaching staff once again tinkered with its starting lineup in the two matches.

Sophomore Dan Wichmann, who had started the previous six matches, was replaced by freshman Graham McIlvaine after one game against Penn State. McIlvaine began the 2011 season as the starting setter before being benched for Wichmann against Quincy on Feb. 25.

McIlvaine took advantage of his playing time, earning the starting nod at setter against Saint Francis. He finished with 33 assists on the night.

"We thought [Graham] did a good job last night against Penn State," Waltons said. "We just wanted to continue with him as a starter tonight and see how it went. I thought he had a pretty good match."

Walton said McIlvaine gave the Cardinals a better chance to get both the outside attackers and middle attackers equally involved in the offense in this weekend's matches.

Outside attacker Greg Herceg led Ball State in kills for the second consecutive match, with nine against Saint Francis as well as eight digs.

Middle attacker Anders Nelson finished behind him with seven kills and a .556 attack percentage, while J.D. Gasparovic and Larry Wrather each tallied six kills.

Libero Tommy Rouse led the Cardinals' defense with nine digs on the night.

The win increases the Cardinals' record to 12-8 on the season.

Ball State will return home for a match against Lewis on Friday after four consecutive road matches.