The No. 13 Ball State men's volleyball team defeated No. 12 George Mason Thursday night, 3-1, in Worthen.
Senior Brendan Surane led the Cardinals with 21 kills, 10 digs and five blocks. He also boasted a .342 hitting percentage. Junior Mitch Weiler also had an impressive performance with 14 kills and a .433 hitting percentage. Freshman Matt Szewsknocked down nine kills while junior Matt Walshtallied eight kills and a team high .545 hitting percentage. Defensively, sophomore Adam Wessell led the team with 12 digs.
"That's the player we want Surane to be," said head coach Joel Walton. "We have three guys that are really demanding respect right now – Surane, Szews and Walsh. Those three are also creating some opportunities for Weiler. We couldn't get as many balls to Walsh, but we used him as a decoy, which opened things for other people."
"Tonight, I felt like our guys understood and knew where they wanted to be, how we wanted to defend with our block, how to be defensive with our back row, so we were making it difficult for them to put the ball away," added Coach Walton.
In an intense opening set, the Patriots and Cardinals had 15 ties and seven lead changes. After the back and forth set, Ball State came up short and lost with a final score of 32-30. Surane knocked down seven of the team's 20 kills in set one.
The Cardinals took control of set two, winning with a final score of 25-15. Weiler led the way with five kills while Surane added four. Senior Alex Pia had two kills along with the set winning point on a service ace.
Sets three and four also went to Ball State allowing them to take the match, 3-1. In set three (25-16), the Cardinals went on an 8-0, making the score 23-13. That turned out to be a deficit the Patriots could not overcome. Ball State won set three on a block assist from Surane and Walsh.
In the closing set (25-19), Surane added four more kills and four more digs to his already impressive night. One of those kills being the match winning point on an assist from senior setter Connor Gross. Gross had 46 assists on the night.
"George Mason has a pretty good serving team, so we just prepared for it," said Gross. "We have a lot of good guys, but Surane makes a world of difference. Having confidence that I know he [Surane] is going to make a kill is a pretty big deal. So he is a guy I like to go to."
After the match, Surane explained how he stayed focused and had such a powerful performance.
"Tonight I really got to focus on when they were going to try and serve me the ball," said Surane. "Coach made it clear to me to stay positive. If they get an ace, they get an ace. I just need to always keep getting back up and keep going."
The Cardinals move to 7-1 on the season and will look to take down NJIT tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in Worthen.