Muncie, IN - The Pioneer men's volleyball team had an 8-2 fifth set lead slip through its fingers in a 3-2 loss at the hands of Ball State Sunday night. Enzo Mackenzie (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) notched half of SHU's kills with an impressive 28 while also posting six blocks at the net. Sacred Heart nearly stole a win despite a season low .105 hitting percentage in the match. Senior Tim Sadowski (Salem, NH) supplied 44 assists while Criag Harvey (Beverly, MA) dug 11 balls to pace the Pioneer effort on the back line.
Sacred Heart (7-5) claimed the first set with its highest hitting mark of the night at .222 on 15 kills and seven errors. Mackenzie led the SHU attack with six kills in the game while freshman Jason Kinney (Salem, NH) added four of his own. The Pioneers took the largest lead of the frame at 16-11 on a triple block from Mackenzie, Bradley Borsay (Richmond, RI), and Josef Sauer (Okemos, MI). Sauer finisihed the night with five blocks to go with his four kills and two digs. A Cardinal attack error gave SHU two set points at 24-22 and two points later Mackenzie registered a kill to give Sacred Heart a 1-0 lead in the match.
Ball State (10-6) held the Pioneers to just seven kills in the second stanza and forced eight SHU hitting miscues. Greg Herceg recorded six kills on seven swings as the Cardinals took the second set convincingly, 25-13. Sacred Heart rallied in the third set with seven kills from Mackenzie as the freshman put his team up 2-1 overall. The third set was the only frame in which the Cardinals did not hit at least .250 as the home side had nine kills and nine errors (.000) in the middle set. The Pioneers won five of the last six points of the game to claim the 25-20 triumph and move to within one set of victory.
However, the Cardinals came out on fire in the fourth set to build a 9-2 cushion. The Pioneers would never get closer than six as Ball State leveled the match at 2-2 with a 25-14 victory. However, Sacred Heart returned the favor in the opening stages of the fifth set, cruising out to an 8-2 lead and forcing the Cardinals to burn both of their timeouts.
Later in the set Ball State claimed six-of-seven rallies to close the SHU lead to just one at 11-10. A block from Larry Wrather and Anders Nelson gave the Cardinals its first lead of the deciding set, 13-12. Sacred Heart fought off a match point to even the score at 14-14 on a Mackenzie kill. BSU got another chance to end the match as Nelson rang up one of his eight kills. The match would end 16-14 as Mackenzie had an attack blocked by the three person wall of Nelson, Dan Wichmann, and Lee Meyer.
Sacred Heart will have 11 days before its next match as they take to the road again for a 7:00 pm meeting with Rivier on Thursday, March 17.