George Mason to play Pepperdine, Ball State in Uvaldo Acosta Invitational

George Mason will play two non-conference home matches against nationally ranked teams at an event that posthumously honors one of the best players in its program history.

The tournament field for the inaugural Uvaldo Acosta Invitational was unveiled earlier this week with George Mason playing host to Ball State and Pepperdine during the upcoming season.

Acosta was an All-American who led George Mason to an upset victory against Penn State and a berth in the 1988 NCAA Tournament. The following year Acosta was selected to the U.S. Men’s National Team and was the best defensive player at the 1991 World Cup.

The former Patriot was named the team’s head coach in 1996. He held the position for three years until George Mason traveled to Hawaii for a non-conference tournament, and during an off-day for the event Acosta passed away in a surfing accident.

“We are excited to start the inaugural Uvaldo Acosta Invitational,” George Mason coach Jay Hosack said. “For years, he was such an integral part of the Mason community. From starting out as a top athlete in the country, to making the national team, and then taking over the reigns here as a coach. He bled Mason green and gold. Now, we get a chance to keep his memory alive by inviting top teams every year to battle it out on our home court in his honor. We look forward to continuing this new tradition every year.”

George Mason one-year removed from winning the EIVA championship and making the NCAA Tournament finished last season in sixth place in the EIVA. The Patriots have several all-conference starters still on the roster from that 2016 championship team, including libero Johnny Gomez and setter Brian Negron.

Both Pepperdine and Ball State ended last season ranked in the national coaches poll.

Pepperdine in its final season under recently retired Hall of Fame coach Marv Dunphy reached the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. David Hunt was promoted to be the team’s new head coach, and outside attacker David Wieczorek, the 2017 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice National Player of the Year, highlights the starters returning for the Waves.

Ball State ended last season in fourth place in the MIVA and almost upset the NCAA champions Ohio State in the conference tournament semifinals. The Cardinals return several of their starters for the upcoming season, including Freshman All-American opposite Matt Szews.

Szews also had nine kills and a team=-high two aces in a four-game home victory against George Mason last season.

The three-day tournament will begin Jan. 26 at George Mason’s Recreation Athletic Complex. Each team will play the other two teams and have a scheduled off-day as part of the tournament.