Story Courtesy of George Mason
FAIRFAX, Va. – Looking to end the first portion of non-conference play on a high note, Mason welcomed the number one team in the country, Long Beach State, to the RAC on Mason Homecoming night. The Patriots kept it close all night, including forcing the first set into extras, but ultimately the 49ers won in straight sets.
"I'm real proud of the of the guys in the way they worked hard this week to make some changes we thought were necessary for our program to turn the corner, and I thought we did that this weekend with both matches," head coach Jay Hosack said. "I know we didn't win the match tonight, but I thought we won as a program because we're getting better at the right things and that's going to help us the rest of the season."
As a team the Patriots compiled six service aces, three of which came from sophomore Sam Greenslade. His three aces set a new season high for him and tied the team high for most individual aces in a match for the 2018 season.
RS-junior Langston Payne continued his stellar play, picking up two more blocks and hitting .556 on the night (5-0-9). Payne has now logged 15 total blocks in his last four matches and has hit over .500 in two consecutive showcases (Min. 9 TA).
The Patriots rebounded from a 4-1 deficit through back-to-back service aces early in the first set by chipping away and eventually tying the score at 9-9. With the immediate aftermath featuring three ties, Kyle Barnes got the Patriots' first ace of the night, a point that gave them their first lead of the night at 14-13. Long Beach State countered with a 3-0 run to retake the lead and force a Mason timeout. Following the pause in the action, Mason one-upped the 49ers' burst of momentum and went on a 4-0 run that was capped off by a Brian Negron ace. Up 19-17, the Patriots held on to the lead to the 22-21 mark until Long Beach State took control with two straight kills to give them a 23-22 lead. Mason fought back and pushed the set into extras, but the 49ers prevailed with a 26-24 win.
Mason set the tone for a tightly contested second set with a Greenslade service ace right out of the gate. In the following action, Greenslade, Barnes, Payne and Jack Reese all notched kills in the following action that led to Greenslade's second ace of the set to give the Green and Gold a 10-9 lead. The 49ers responded with 3-0 run to put them in the driver's seat during the ensuing point swaps. With the score tied 17-17, Greenslade stepped up with his third ace of the night to set a new season high. Hayden Wagner logged a kill shortly after to take a 19-18 advantage, but that would be the Patriots final lead of the set as Long Beach State's ensuing 7-3 run secured a 25-22 victory.
In the third stanza, Mason went toe-to-toe with the 49ers to the 9-9 mark before a Nick Amado kill and a T.J. DeFalco ace gave the 49ers a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Long Beach State went on two 3-0 runs that featured two blocks to set the score at 19-14. Not going down without a fight, Mason cut the deficit to 21-18 thanks to a 3-0 run that forced a 49ers timeout. However, immediately after the break in the action Long Beach State extinguished any momentum and closed out the set 25-19, winning the match 3-0.
After a tough non-conference slate of to begin the season, Mason opens EIVA play against NJIT on Feb. 16 and Princeton on Feb. 17.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
• Going 5-0-9 Saturday on the attack, RS-junior Langston Payne now has the fewest errors (15) among Patriots with at least 100 attempts.
• In his second straight match as the primary libero, junior Will Calaman mirrored Friday night with a five-dig performance.
• Long Beach State hit .577 as a team, the highest total from a Mason opponent this season.