Story Courtesy of George Mason
LOS ANGELES – George Mason took on UCLA for the 12th time in program history, and the eighth time with the Bruins ranked at least fifth in the AVCA poll. The Patriots got nine kills from RS-junior Langston Payne on 14 attempts, but the Bruins took the match 3-0.
After compiling his 500th assist of the season last night, senior Brian Negron competed in his 100th career match with the Green and Gold. He increased his career assist total to 3313 and is now 111 away from tying Dave Egan for third all-time in program history.
RS-freshman Jack Reese saw a set of action on Saturday night and picked up a block for number 50 on the season. Reese now sits at 97.0 points on the season and will look to eclipse the century mark on Tuesday.
"UCLA is good, but we didn't come ready to compete tonight," head coach Jay Hosack said. "Teams like these are the ones that finish the year in the hunt. We have yet to turn that corner with our program. We have to be prepared to compete with our utmost readiness every night."
Payne got the early looks from Negron with two quick kills out of the gate to put Mason up 2-0. With the score tied 3-3, the set saw five consecutive service errors to put the score at 6-5 in favor of Mason. With the teams continuing to trade points, Payne remained the go-to attacker with two more kills to help guide the Patriots to an 11-9 lead. That ended up being the last two-point lead of the set for Mason due to UCLA catching fire, embarking on a 5-1 run to take a 14-12 lead and force a Mason timeout. Christian Malias and Kyle Barnes chipped in two kills later in the frame, but it was all UCLA with a 7-2 run to close out the set with a 25-17 victory.
Hayden Wagner's kill was the first point of the second set, but ended up being the last Patriots lead. UCLA countered with a 4-0 run and later went up 6-2. Wagner notched the Patriots' 100th service ace of the season to get Mason on the stat sheet in the ace department, cutting the UCLA lead to 6-4 in the process. Mason trimmed the lead to 7-6 and 9-7 behind kills from Bryce Gatling and Barnes, but UCLA responded with a 4-0 run anchored by a service ace to go up 13-8. Payne stopped the bleeding with his sixth kill of the match, followed by another Barnes kill to set the score at 15-10 in favor of UCLA. However, the Bruins took off from there with a 6-0 run to send themselves on a 10-3 final stretch to take the second set 25-13.
Just as it happened in the previous two sets, a Patriots recorded a kill to begin things in the third stanza – this time Sam Greenslade sent the opening attack to the hardwood. However, the third set showed similarities to the previous two with UCLA being in the driver's seat as well. Mason held five leads up to the 6-5 mark with Wagner registering two early kills, but a 4-0 Bruin run put them up 9-6 and forced a Patriot timeout. Wagner notched a kill out of the break, but It didn't get any easier for Mason as UCLA extended the lead to 15-10 with all its points in its 6-2 run coming via either kill or block. Johnny Gomez was awarded a kill to cut the deficit to 15-10 followed by Wagner recording his fourth kill of the set to make the score 17-11 in favor of the Bruins in the middle portions of the set. Before UCLA reached set point, Mason cut the lead to five twice, doing so with a block from Reese and Justin Coleman (19-14), as well as a Greenslade kill (20-15). When UCLA eventually grabbed a 24-17 lead, Mason made one last push with a 3-0 run featuring Payne's ninth kill and lone block of the match to shorten the deficit to 24-20, but UCLA scored the next point for a 25-20 set three win and a 3-0 match victory.
Mason is off from game action for the next two days and will wrap up the west coast trip Tuesday night against UC-Irvine. It will be the first time in Hosack's tenure the Patriots will play the Anteaters in Irvine, with the last road match coming in 2015.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
• While the attack percentage favored UCLA by .370 points, Mason did manage a 53.4 percent side-out percentage.
• Johnny Gomez was awarded a kill when UCLA couldn't retrieve an over-pass. The kill was Gomez's third of the year to extend the libero's career high.
• Gomez hauled in six digs on Saturday night, which was tied for the match high. It was the eighth time Gomez has had at least a share of the match high in digs this season.