MUNCIE, Ind. - - The Ball State men’s volleyball team let three match-points slip by as George Mason rallied from down 14-11 in the fifth set to score a stunning 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14) victory at Worthen Arena Friday evening in the first match of the 2012 Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge.
Despite four players with double-digit kills, the Cardinals saw their season record fall to 2-2, as the Patriots avenged last Saturday’s 3-2 BSU win on its home court to also move to 2-2.
Sophomore middle attacker Kevin Owens (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) continued his solid play in replacement of BSU’s two graduated All-American middles, blasting a career-high 11 kills, while adding a career-best seven (one solo and six assists) total blocks. He also connected for a career-best .611 hitting mark.
Freshman outside attacker Shane Witmer (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) provided the Cardinals’ first double-double of the season with career-highs of 10 kills and 11 digs. He also served up his first career ace.
Redshirt junior middle blocker Jamion Hartley (North Chicago, Ill./North Chicago H.S.) led Ball State with 17 kills, while connecting for a .289 (17-6-38) hitting mark on the night.
Rounding out BSU’s double-digit attackers was junior outside attacker Larry Wrather (Lake Bluff, Ill./Lake Forrest H.S.) with 11 kills. He also compiled nine digs and five block assists.
Redshirt sophomore middle attacker Matt Leske (Highwood, Ill./Highland Park H.S.) also turned in a strong effort with eight kills, five blocks and a .429 hitting mark.
BSU sophomore libero Tommy Rouse (Carmel, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) tied for a match-high honors with 13 digs, while sophomore setter Graham McIlvaine (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central H.S.) guided the Ball State offense to a .231 (62-28-147) hitting mark, handing out a career-best 50 assists to go along with career-highs of seven digs and seven block assists.
In his first match this season, GMU’s Mark Jones led all players with a 30 kills, while adding 11 digs and five block assists. The Patriots’ Joe Norton and Pete Cuppernull tied BSU’s Rouse for match-high honors with 13 digs.
Ball State held a .231 to .224 (61-28-147) hitting advantage in the contest, while out-digging GMU 50-47. With a strong effort in the fifth set (six blocks), GMU out-blocked the Cardinals 14.5-12.5 on the night.
The Ball State men’s volleyball team returns to action tomorrow (Saturday) night, when it hosts St. Francis at 7:30 p.m. in the final match of the 2012 Don Shondell/Active Ankle Challenge.