UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The George Mason men's volleyball team's season came to an end after it fell in the 2015 EIVA Championship title match to Penn State in straight sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-17) on Friday night.
Redshirt sophomore Jack Wilson had another team-high performance, but as opposed to the semi-final match against Harvard, this time he was limited by Penn State's defense to only seven kills. Sophomore Radoslav Popov led the Patriots with five digs. Aaron Russell was expectedly the Nittany Lions' top scorer with 15 kills, but two other Penn State players finished in double digits. One of them, Nick Goodell, led the team with eight digs.
The Nittany Lions (20-9, 14-0 EIVA) enjoyed a better start to all three sets. In the opening set, three aces helped them go on a 6-2 run. Mason came as close as three on a block by Wilson and sophomore Graham Gresham at 12-9, but Penn State won the next three points to force a timeout by the Patriots' coach Fred Chao. The momentum stayed on Penn State's side of the court for the rest of the set and the Nittany Lions closed the set on their highest lead at 25-16.
Russell's serve helped Penn State to a 4-0 start in the second set, but even though it grew to eight at 16-8, the Patriots found it in themselves to cut the lead in half at 16-12 with the help of two aces by Wilson and a block by Gresham. However, the Nittany Lions matched Mason's momentum and built on it to win nine of the following 13 points for the final 25-17 in the set.
After another 4-0 start, Penn State's lead grew to eight even earlier than the previous set – 11-3. The Nittany Lions never let their foot off the gas and proved hard to handle by the young Mason team and their lead reached nine at 18-9. The Patriots kept fighting and even forced Penn State's only timeout in the match at 21-15, but it was the Nittany Lions' night and they eventually closed the set at 25-17 to win the title for the 17th consecutive season.
Given the rough start they had and all the new faces that they had to acclimate, the 15-13 overall record and all of the positive emotions on the way to achieving it are only two of the reasons why the Patriots should consider their season successful.