Sophomore outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) paced three Cardinals in double figures with 15 kills, while senior middle blockers J.D. Gasparovic (St. Louis, Mo./Oakville H.S.) and Anders Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis./St. Croix Falls H.S.) collected 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
Nelson added a team-best seven blocks, while hitting .500 (12-1-22) for the night. Gasparovic finished with a .400 (14-4-25) hitting mark to go along with a pair of blocks.
In the backcourt, freshman libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) led all players with a career-high 18 digs, while freshman setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) added a career-bests of 11 digs and 48 assists for his second career double-double.
George Mason's Max McFarland kept the BSU defense off balance most of the night, racking up 26 kills to go along with a .457 (26-5-46) hitting mark. Eric Lucas added 16 markers, while Mark Jones tallied 14 for the Patriots.
Lucas added a team-best 12 digs for a double-double, while GMU setter Brandon Joyner collected 11 digs and 56 assists for a double-double of his own.
George Mason finished the match with a .258 (65-26-151) to .201 (57-27-149) hitting advantage, while also out-blocking (12 to 9)and out-digging (54 to 52) the Cardinals.
While George Mason surged out to a 4-1 advantage in the opening set, the Cardinals answered with a 4-1 run of their own, tying the score at 5-5. Moments later, a kill and block from Nelson helped BSU claim its first lead at 7-6. The Patriots answered with the next two points, and from there, the teams battled to a 16-16 stalemate.
Nelson then broke the game open with three straight kills, forcing a GMU timeout at 19-16. The hosts would pull within one point on two occasions, including the 20-19 mark, only to have BSU score five of the final seven points and win the game 25-21 on a kill from sophomore outside attacker Greg Herceg (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.).
George Mason scored the first three points of the second frame and never looked back, winning the set 25-20. With BSU trailing by five, at 16-11, a kill from Wrather sparked a 4-0 run from the Cardinals, cutting the gap to one at 16-15. Unfortunately, BSU would get no closer, eventually dropping the game by five on a kill from GMU's Jones.
Ball State held an early 12-7 edge in the third set, only to see the Patriots battle back and tie the score at 18. From there, it was an epic back-and-forth battle, as the teams played well past the 25-point mark, to a 32-32 tie. Each team would have several chances to close the game, only to have the other squad answer the call.
With GMU leading 32-31, a kill from Nelson led to the final tie. However, a BSU ball handling error and a Patriots triple block ended the frame at 34-32.
BSU played to another five-point lead in the fourth game, as a kill from Wrather made the score 16-11. From there, however, it was all George Mason, as they battled back to tie the score at 20, before scoring five of the final six points to win the frame 25-21.
The Ball State men's volleyball team concludes its brief stint on the east coast Saturday night with an 8 p.m. contest at Sacred Heart.