FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The 14th ranked IPFW men’s volleyball team fell in a thrilling five-set match to conference rival Ball State on Friday night in front of a packed Gates Sports Center to open MIVA action.
Four Mastodons registered double-doubles, including Omar Rivera who finished with 47 assists, 12 digs, and a career-high six kills. Eddie Rivera and Andrew Sellan had 13 kills apiece as well as 12 and 10 digs, respectively while Elon Fyfield recorded 11 kills and 13 digs.
The match began with both teams trading points with neither squad able to gain an edge. With the score knotted at 7-7, the ‘Dons won four of the next five points to take a lead they wouldn’t give up. Leading 23-18, back-to-back kills by Omar Rivera and Ramon Burgos gave IPFW the opening set.
The second frame started the same as the first as neither team led by more than two until a 3-0 run by the Mastodons gave the home team a 12-9 advantage. Ball State responded immediately however, taking the next three points to tie the score and then four of the next five to take a 17-14 lead. The ‘Dons would rally back to get within one at 21-20 following a kill by Sellan, but the Cardinals held on to even the match at one set apiece.
IPFW attempted to regain the momentum by building an early 6-4 lead in the third stanza, but Ball State refused to let the ‘Dons pull away. The score remained tight the rest of the period as the teams battled to a 22-22 score. The Mastodons would tally the next two points and had a chance to take a commanding two-sets-to-one lead, but the Cardinals fought off a pair of set points on their way to scoring four straight to take the set 26-24.
Looking to put the match away, Ball State stormed out to a 3-1 lead to begin the fourth frame. The Mastodons clawed their way back and managed to jump in front 8-7 after a quick 3-0 scoring spurt. All night though, Ball State seemed to answer every IPFW run with one of their own, and this time the Cardinals scored five of the next seven points to regain the lead 12-10. The squads continued to go back and forth until late in the set. The Cardinals looked to have the match in control up 24-22, but the ‘Dons showed their resiliency and used kills by Eddie Rivera and Omar Rivera to even the score before eventually coming all the way back to win the set 27-25, and send the match to a decisive fifth set.
In the night’s final set, Ball State stole whatever momentum the Mastodons had by jumping out to a 6-0 lead. IPFW rallied back, trimming the deficit to three at 13-10, but the Cardinals were able to hold off the Mastodon charge and escape with the victory 15-10.
IPFW, who entered the match leading the country in hitting percentage, operated at a season-low .131 clip. Bryan Saunders and Burgos added eight kills apiece for the ‘Dons while Luis Bertran scooped up a career-best 16 digs.
Up next, the Mastodons travel to Princeton on Friday, February 7 for the first of four straight road matches.