Pioneers Fall to Ball State in Tight Bout

Fairfield, Conn. (January 19, 2013)—Jason Kinney (Salem, N.H.) led the match with 16 kills, but it wasn't enough as the Sacred Heart Men's Volleyball Team fell to Ball State in four sets. The Pioneers are now 0-3 on the season, heading into EIVA conference play next weekend.

The match opened with a strong run by Sacred Heart, who took a quick 5-1 lead. The Cardinals answered with a nine-point service run by Jack Lesure. Ball State increased the lead to as many as eight points while the Pioneers struggled offensively in the opening set hitting -.029 as a team. Pioneer Kinney led all players in the set with five kills.

The second set was a much closer contest as the match was tied six times with the largest lead being just four points. Sacred Heart found its rhythm in the second set as they hit an impressive .303 as a team with 16 kills on 33 swings with just six errors. The set opened with a Ball State in the lead 6-3, but the Pioneers battled back to tie it a 9-9. Through the middle of the set it looked as if SHU would run away with the victory going on a 8-3 run to make the score 17-12. The Cardinals again answered tying the set 3 times at 22-22, 24-24, and 25-25. A kill by junior Will LeClerc (Fairfield, Conn.) and a service ace from freshman Benjamin Thomas (Swansea, Ill.) closed the set for the Pioneers and leveled the match at 1-1.

The Pioneers were unable to continue their offensive production in the third set. Seventeen total unforced errors allowed Ball State to easily take the third set by a score of 25-16. The set remained close at first, with the Pioneers trailing just two points at 9-7. However two Ball State kills and two Sacred Heart hitting errors widened the gap to 13-7. A service ace by the Pioneers and consecutive kills from LeClerc and Kinney helped cut the gap to two points at 14-12.  A six-point run by the Cardinals crushed any hopes of a SHU comeback and the set finished with a score of 25-16.

A thriller from the opening point, with 16 ties and three lead changes, Sacred Heart and Ball State fought a close fourth set. The largest SHU lead of the set came early on with the Pioneers ahead 10-7, while Ball State led late in the set 23-20. The Pioneers battled their way back into the set and faced match point at 24-22. A kill by Raymond Satagaj (Rocky Hill, CT) saved one match point. Then, he combined with Thomas on a block to save the other. SHU again faced match point at 26-25, but a Ball State service error leveled the match at 26-26. A Pioneer service error again gave the Cardinals a chance to close the match, but Satagaj helped save his third match point with a well-timed kill.  Two unfortunate Pioneer errors ended the match. 

Sacred Heart hits the road, making a long trip to Pennsylvania next weekend. They face Penn State Friday opening EIVA play, and Saint Francis U on Saturday.