The best Ball State players at their position from this decade are earning a college men’s volleyball honor.
Off the Block announced on Monday the seven players selected to the Ball State All-Decade Starting Lineup presented by Off the Block.
The All-Decade Starting Lineup recognizes the best players to compete with a team since 2010. Similar to the starting lineup for a match, the All-Decade honor is comprised of a setter, opposite and libero along with two outside attackers and middle attackers.
The Off the Block staff determined the All-Decade Starting Lineup using a variety of factors including career statistical performance and the team’s overall success when a player was a member of the program.
This is also part of a series from Off the Block to celebrate the end of the decade in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block throughout the rest of 2019 will release an All-Decade Starting Lineup for every NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team.
Ball State had four seasons with at least 20 wins this decade. In addition, the Cardinals have advanced to the MIVA Tournament semifinals six times since 2010.
Off the Block is a national award winning website that was established in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball.
Ball State All-Decade Starting Lineup presented by Off the Block
Setter: Graham McIlvaine
Opposite: Matt Szews
Outside attacker: Brendan Surane
Outside attacker: Larry Wrather
Middle attacker: Anders Nelson
Middle attacker: Matt Walsh
Libero: Tommy Rouse
Coming off the bench: JD Gasparovic, Matt Leske, Kevin Owens
Graham McIlvaine (2011-14)
Awards and honors: 2014 Second-Team All-MIVA
McIlvaine, a four-year starter, concluded his career third in program history during the rally scoring era with 3,081 assists. As a senior, the setter was in the nation’s top 20 with a 9.74 assists per game average and helped lead Ball State to the MIVA Tournament semifinals for the third consecutive season. McIlvaine also had more than 500 career digs, including being sixth in the conference with a career-high 2.18 digs per game average in 2013.
Anders Nelson (2009-11)
Awards and honors: 2010 Second-Team All-MIVA, 2011 National Blocker of the Year finalist, 2011 Second-Team All-American, 2011 First-Team All-MIVA
Nelson finished his senior season fourth in the nation with a 1.30 blocks per game average and was third in the conference with a career-best .406 attack percentage. This was the second consecutive season that Nelson was among the conference leaders in both the offensive and defensive categories. He also was in the top 10 of the MIVA with both a .365 attack percentage and a 1.26 blocks per game average in 2010. Among his top performances during this two-year span featured a match-high eight blocks and 11 kills on a .529 attack percentage as Ball State upset then-No. 3 CSUN in 2010.
Tommy Rouse (2010-13)
Awards and honors: 2011 First-Team All-MIVA, 2013 First-Team All-MIVA
Rouse in each of his three seasons as the team’s starting libero finished in the nation’s top 15 for digs and ended his career ranked in the school’s top five during the rally scoring era with 672 digs. In his final college season, Rouse was third in the nation averaging a career-best 2.92 digs per game. He also had double-digit digs in 17 matches that season, including a season-high 18 digs in a conference victory against Grand Canyon.
Brendan Surane (2014-17)
Awards and honors: 2016 Second-Team All-MIVA, 2018 All-MIVA Honorable Mention
Surane had back-to-back seasons in the MIVA’s top 10 for kills, including a career-high 3.09 kills per game average in 2016. The outside attacker that season had a career-high 22 kills in a five-game home victory against UC Irvine. Surane defensively had more than 200 career blocks and was in the conference’s top 15 with a 0.79 blocks per game average in 2016. In addition, Surane is eighth in program history during the rally scoring era with 66 career aces.
Matt Szews (2017 – present)
Awards and honors: 2017 Freshmen All-American Team, 2017 Co-MIVA Freshman of the Year, 2017 First-Team All-MIVA, 2017 MIVA All-Freshmen Team, 2019 First-Team All-MIVA
Szews ended last season fourth in the conference averaging 3.44 kills per game and had at least 20 kills in six matches, including a team-high 21 kills on a .327 attack percentage in an upset victory versus Lewis. He also was fourth in the MIVA as a freshman with a 3.37 kills per game average — his first of three season in the conference’s top 10 for kills. Along with his offensive performance, Szews has 105 career aces and enters his senior year seven aces shy from breaking the school record for career aces in the rally scoring era.
Matt Walsh (2015-18)
Awards and honors: 2015 National Blocker of the Year finalist, 2017 Ryan Millar Award finalist, 2017 National Blocker of the Year finalist, 2017 All-American Honorable Mention, 2017 First-Team All-MIVA, 2018 National Blocker of the Year finalist, 2018 All-American Honorable Mention, 2018 First-Team All-MIVA
Walsh remains second in program history during the rally scoring era with 504 career blocks. The middle attacker finished three seasons in the nation’s top 10 for blocks highlighted by being third in the country with a career-best 1.39 blocks per game average as a freshman. Walsh had at least a .350 attack percentage in each of his four seasons, including leading the nation with a .449 attack percentage in 2017. Along with his offensive and defensive performances, Walsh ranks fourth at Ball State in the rally scoring era with 95 career aces.
Larry Wrather (2010-14)
Awards and honors: 2011 Second-Team All-MIVA
Wrather concluded his college career in program’s top 20 during the rally scoring era with both 695 kills and 445 digs. The outside attacker in 2011 led the team and was ninth in the conference with a 2.63 kills per game average. The following season Wrather was in the conference’s top 10 with a career-best 1.84 digs per game average, including a season-high 19 digs in a five-game upset victory against Ohio State.