MUNCIE, Ind. – Alex Harthaller sets a new career high as the 10th-ranked (American Volleyball Coaches Association) IPFW men’s volleyball team complete a come-from-behind win at No. 13 Ball State in a MIVA (Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) faceoff. The Mastodons earned a 3-2 victory, finished 21-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-11, improving to 8-2, 3-0 (MIVA), while the Cardinals fell to 7-2, 2-1 (MIVA).
Harthaller more than doubled his career high with 26 kills against the Cardinals, adding nine digs and hitting .452. Harthaller’s previous career high was set at Harvard earlier this season, when he registered 12 kills. Omar Rivera set a new season high 58 assists, which is four shy of his career high 62 assists set against Grand Canyon on March 17, 2012.
The Blue and White fought back-and-forth with the Cardinals in the opening set, taking a slim 8-7 lead after the first 15 points. The Cardinals would jump to a 15-10 lead before IPFW climbed back in the match, cutting it to 23-20 before falling 25-21.
The ‘Dons trailed early in the second set before going on an 8-1 run, making it 11-8 midway through the set. With the match tied at 22, Ball State would take the final three points to move up 2-0 overall. The see-saw battle saw the set tied 11 times with two lead changes. Luis Bertran earned five digs in the second set as IPFW combined for 15 during the set.
Trying to avoid the sweep, the Mastodons took a narrow 11-8 lead over the Cardinals. IPFW would earn a 5-1 run, extending its lead to 18-13 and roll to a 25-21 win, forcing a fourth set. The Blue and white combined for four blocks during the set, while Harthaller earned six kills.
IPFW and Ball State battled in the fourth set as the Cardinals took an 11-10 lead. The ‘Dons responded with an 8-3 run, going up 18-14. The Mastodons finished the set on a 5-2 run, forcing a decisive fifth set. The teams traded points during the fourth, tying the set seven times with five lead changes. Once again Bertran earned five digs in a set, while balanced attacking between Harthaller, Andrew Sellan, Ramon Burgos, and Gabriel Quinones led the ‘Dons, each earning at least three kills in the set.
In the final set, the teams split the first 12 points, going, before IPFW earned three-straight to go up 9-6. A 3-1 run late in the fifth set would give the Mastodons a slight edge before Ball State would fight back, making it 13-11. With the Cardinals looked to get back in the set, but a service ace from Jack Lesure helped continue the Mastodon momentum before Harthaller finished the match, giving the ‘Dons a 15-11 win in the final set. Harthaller paced the Blue and White in the fifth set, earning seven kills.
Sellan wrapped up the match with 15 kills and nine digs, while tying a season high three aces. Burgos set a new season high with 11 kills, adding four blocks. Bertran finished with 13 digs, making it his fifth match this season with double-digit digs, while Quinones doubled his career high with eight digs.
For the match, the Mastodons outscored the Cardinals 67-54, including a 60-53 advantage in assists. Ball State controlled the net with 31 blocks, while IPFW managed 10. The ‘Dons edged the Cardinals 5-1 in aces, while dishing out a 51-47 advantage in digs.
The Mastodons return to action when they host George Mason on Friday, February 6. The match against the Patriots is set to begin in the Gates Center at 7 p.m.