Story Courtesy of George Mason
FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason returned home after its long road trip and faced off against Saint Francis (Pa.). Behind nine kills from sophomore Hayden Wagner and RS-senior Christian Malias, the Patriots swept the Red Flash to improve to 15-10 overall and 11-0 in EIVA play.
Malias (.438) and Wagner (.318) each hit above .300 with Malias' attack percentage resulting in the match high among those with at least nine attempt. Malias' efficiency was his second highest attack percentage in a match this season, second only to his .556 clip vs. No. 14 Ball State (Jan. 28).
Senior Brian Negron compiled 32 assists and guided the Patriots on a .380 attack percentage. Mason only committed nine attacking errors all night and the .380 percentage is good for the second highest against an EIVA opponent this season and fourth highest overall.
RS-freshman Jack Reese led the Patriots with three total blocks in the match. Malias and Negron each pitched in two, while one of Negron's was a solo block.
"I thought our boys played with poise tonight and kept their foot on the gas entire match. Saint Francis did a very good job serving tonight and our passers did a real nice job of containing their aggressive serves," head coach Jay Hosack said. "We dug in and kept playing one point at a time and sure enough we came out on top. It was a nice victory, but now we have a big match tomorrow."
Kyle Barnes, Reese and Malias factored into a block for Mason's first point of the match. From there the Patriots were rolling and got six kills from Malias as well as four kills from Barnes and Wagner. Mason grabbed its first lead at 3-2 and re-took it at 4-3 and led the rest of the set. Wagner picked up the Green and Gold's first ace of the night to make his team's lead 8-4 and cap off the first 3-0 run of the set. Mason took it one step further with a 6-1 run to extend the lead to 17-8 and force a Saint Francis timeout. The lead was more than enough and Mason finished the set strong with a .727 attack percentage to claim victory in set number one at 25-12.
Mason took its first three-point lead for set number two at 5-2 when Reese registered his lone ace of the evening. The Red Flash responded with a 3-0 run and remained in control for most of the set and led as late as the 18-15 mark. Shortly after Wagner and Barnes logged back-to-back kills to cut the deficit to 18-17, the turning point occurred when junior Justin Coleman entered the game and Mason took advantage of five straight SFU attacking errors to flip the score to 22-19 in favor of the Patriots. The Red Flash stopped the bleeding with a kill, but the damage was done and Mason remained in the driver's seat. Malias notched the final kill of the frame to give Mason a 25-21 victory.
Saint Francis jumped out to a 4-0 lead to open the third set. Bryce Gatling and Negron recorded back-to-back kills to kick-start the Mason attack, which was the catalyst to the Patriots going up 9-7. The fans were treated to back-and-forth volleyball with the ensuing action seeing five ties and four lead changes, as a block from Reese and Barnes gave Mason the lead for good at 17-16. Saint Francis kept its deficit to one up until the 20-19 mark, but a Barnes kill began a 5-0 run that earned Mason a 25-19 victory and its ninth straight-sets win of the season.
Mason returns to the court to square off against long-time rival Penn State on Saturday night. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to arrive early with the general admission seats expected to fill up quickly. With Harvard defeating Princeton on Friday night, Mason will clinch home court advantage in the EIVA Tournament with a win against the Nittany Lions and a Harvard loss to NJIT.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
• Mason's .727 attack percentage in the first set is the highest total the team has posted in a set this season.
• Graduate student Johnny Gomez pushed his season digs total to 206, making his 2018 season the sixth highest total in a rally-scoring era season.
• RS-senior Christian Malias notched his 634th career kill to tie him with James Claney for the 12th most in program history (Rally-Scoring era).