Romeoville, Ill. -- No. 11 Lewis heads to its third-consecutive appearance in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tournament Championship, after outlasting No. 13 Ball State 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-13, 15-8) on Wednesday (April 23) at Neil Carey Arena.
The Flyers improve to 23-6 on the season and will take on No. 1 Loyola on Saturday (April 26) for the MIVA Championship title in a 7 p.m. start at Gentile Arena. The Cardinals wrap up the season with a 22-8 record.
"Ball State forced us to do some uncomfortable things tonight," Lewis head men's volleyball coach Dan Friend said. "We battled to take the fourth set and never let up in the fifth set.
"We did a really nice job on block defense tonight, out-blocking and out-digging the nation's top blocking team."
Lewis junior opposite Eric Fitterer paced the Flyers with his first double-double of the season with 14 kills and 12 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Bobby Walsh led the squad with six total blocks (1 solo, 5 BA) and eight kills, helping the Flyers gain a 13.5 to 10.0 blocking advantage.
Junior outside hitter Geoff Powell collected 18 putaways, seven digs and two block assists while fellow outside hitter Greg Petty chipped in 16 kills, eight digs and three block assists. Senior setter BJ Boldog dished out 55 assists, 10 digs and six total blocks (1 solo, 5 BA) while junior libero Lucas Yanez collected a career-high 19 digs.
In an evenly matched first set, the squads were knotted up at 21-all before the Cardinals went on a 4-2 run to take the set. Both squads hit at a .250 clip in the first set, while Ball State collected 13 kills and 3.0 total team blocks to the Flyers 14 putaways and 2.0 team blocks.
The Flyers jumped on the Cardinals in the second set, swinging at a .370 clip with 13 kills and three errors on 27 attempts while holding Ball State to a .115 hitting percentage (10 K, 7 E, 26 TA). Fitterer collected a set high five putaways while Powell chipped in four kills.
Lewis made a 6-2 run after a time out at 18-14 to tie the third set at 20-all. Powell collected four kills, while Walsh chipped in a putaway and Ball State committed an attack error. The Cardinals were able regroup to close out the set on a 5-2 run, collecting a kill each by Graham McIlvaine and Marcin Niemczewski, as well as three Lewis attack errors.
Lewis was able to break away from Ball State in the fourth set. The Flyers swung at a .250 clip, collecting 12 kills and three errors on 36 attempts while holding the Cardinals to a -.111 hitting percentage (7 K, 11 E, 36 TA). Fitterer paced the Flyers with four kills in the frame while Powell collected three putaways.
The Flyers never relinquished the lead in the fifth set, as Powell and Petty each collected three of Lewis' nine kills. Sophomore middle blocker Jacob Schmiegelt paced the Flyers with three total blocks (1 solo, 2 BA) as Lewis out-blocked Ball State, 4-0, in the final game.
The Ball State offense was led by Matt Sutherland's 12 kills, while McIlvaine had 34 assists, nine digs and four kills. The Cardinals libero David Ryan Vander Meer collected a floor-high 20 digs.