No. 14 George Mason Drops Five-Game Heartbreaker to Ball State
Fairfax, Va. - No. 14 George Mason had a couple of chances to close out the match in front of its home crowd on Friday evening at the Fieldhouse, but the Patriots couldn't capitalize as the Ball State Cardinals earned a hard-fought come-from-behind win. Mason led 2-1, but dropped the final two games to fall to 5-3 on the season.
Ball State evened its record at 6-6 on the season with the win. The Cardinals defended the net well all night long, coming up with an astounding 25.5 blocks in the match.
George Mason took a back-and-forth first game that featured 19 ties and nine lead changes. Trailing 33-32 and facing game point, Mason stormed back to win the final three points to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Ball State senior Matt McCarthy hit an errant serve to give the Patriots the serve and tie the score at 33. Mason then scored a pair of blocks to close out the match. The Patriots went up 34-33 when sophomore Brandon McLaughlin and sophomore Luke Maloney combined on a block, and won the game when junior Kyle Gramit and McLaughlin turned away senior Patrick Durbin's attempt.
Ball State seized control of the second game late to tie the match at one. With the score tied at 22, the Cardinals took the next four points to take a 26-22 lead en route to a 30-24 win.
In the third game, the Patriots mounted an impressive comeback after falling behind 15-8. Mason tied the score at 25 off of a booming swing by junior Hudson Bates. Sophomore Ryan Kwiatkowski followed that up with a kill to put the Patriots up by two. The deficit proved too much for Ball State to overcome as Mason won 30-26 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
A 7-0 run put the Cardinals up 19-12 in the fourth game. The Patriots came all the way back to tie the score at 22, but Ball State regrouped to outscore Mason 8-4 to win the game by a final score of 30-26 and even the match at two games each.
In the fifth and final game, Mason appeared to be in control with a 14-12 lead and two chances to close out the Cardinals. Ball State fought back to tie the score at 14 before Bates stopped the run with his 17th and final kill of the match. However, the Patriots were unable to score again as the Cardinals took the next three points, including the final one on a kill by McCarthy to hand Mason its third loss of the year.
Gramit was impressive all night long, setting career-highs with 31 kills and 17 digs. It is his second match this season with 30 or more kills. Kwiatkowski also set a career high in the match with 60 assists. Coming back from injury, senior Mark Burik saw his first action of the season, and earned a double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs. Freshman Eric Lucas ended the night with 14 digs.
McCarthy led the Cardinals with 18 kills on .400 hitting. Durbin and freshman J.D. Gasparovic both recorded double-doubles in the win. Durbin finished with 15 kills and 18 digs while Gasparovic had 14 kills and 13 blocks.
George Mason faces another tough MIVA opponent tomorrow, taking on No. 7 Ohio State in a 7 p.m. match at the Fieldhouse.
Article courtesy of George Mason athletics.