Story Courtesy of George Mason
CHARLESTON, W. Va. – George Mason pulled off a victory that featured resiliency and a relentless attack. In the team's 3-0 victory over the Charleston (W.V.) Golden Eagles, the Patriots showed fight by coming back and winning a second set they trailed for a lot of, as well as clicked on the attack - hitting .385.
Senior setter Brian Negron made good decisions as he dished the ball around the court, guiding both sophomore Hayden Wagner (13) and junior Kyle Barnes (10) to double-digit kills. Negron also led the Patriots with two service aces for his fifth match of the season with multiple aces.
Friday was the fifth time the duo of Wagner and Barnes eclipsed double-digit kills, and eighth time Wagner had at least a share of the match lead in kills. Barnes hit .471 to lead the Patriots among those with at least nine total attempts.
Sophomore Bryce Gatling returned to the lineup and tied his career high in total blocks (six) and solo blocks (two). In EIVA play, Gatling is averaging 1.35 blocks per set and lead frogged into the team lead with seven solo blocks on the year.
"I like our team's resolve to not panic when [Charleston] was ahead," head coach Jay Hosack said. "We played solid ball, and we can play even better. I'm looking forward to getting after it again tomorrow."
George Mason played ketchup in the early portions of the opening set despite two early kills and a block from Jack Reese. After the Golden Eagles took an 13-11 lead, Mason embarked on a 7-0 run to flip the script and put themselves in the driver's seat up 18-13. In addition to Wagner logging a kill and Gatling recording a block, the run was led by Christian Malias with two kills and a solo block. Charleston (W.V.) trimmed the Patriots' lead to 19-16, only to have Mason extinguish the Golden Eagle momentum with a 4-0 run to go up 23-16 with back-to-back service aces from Negron mixed in. Soon after that, Mason closed the door on the first set with the final two points to win 25-18.
The Patriots battled tooth and nail in the second set and played from behind until the 10-10 mark. The Green and Gold tied the score five more times before Wagner's ninth kill of the night gave his team its first lead of the set at 21-20. UC wasn't rattled and went on a 3-0 run that was capped off with a service ace to go up 23-21. Mason battled back from two set points (24-23 and 25-24) with set-saving kills from Wagner and Barnes. Up 27-26, Gatling and Negron teamed up for a block to complete the comeback for a 28-26 set two victory.
Just like the way the second set ended, the third began with a Patriots block – this time from Reese and Malias. The Patriots were off from there and benefited from a 4-0 run that had kills from Barnes, Wagner and a block from Gatling to send Mason up 7-4. The Green and Gold's second 4-0 run of the set came while up 12-10 and was highlighted by Gatling's second solo block of the night, ultimately helping put the Patriots up 16-10. The teams traded points to the 21-17 mark, eventually leading to a 3-0 Patriots' run to take the set 25-18. Gatling recorded a kill and a block in the final stretch to help Mason clinch the 3-0 win.
Mason takes on Charleston (W.V.) again on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., looking to make it seven in a row to start the two program's EIVA all-time head-to-head series.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
• Mason's seventh straight EIVA win puts them in a five-way tie for the longest conference winning streak in program history.
• In addition to his offensive performance, Brian Negron tied his season high in digs with eight.
• Johnny Gomez pushed his 2018 dig total to 166, tying Kyle Gramit (2008) for the 11th most by a Patriot in a rally-scoring era season.