No. 12 George Mason Downs NJIT on Senior Night
Fairfax, Va. - Behind a career-high seven service aces from senior outside hitter Mark Burik, the 12th-ranked George Mason men's volleyball team closed out its regular season schedule with a 3-0 (30-26, 30-27, 30-25) victory over the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Senior Night presented by Sportrock Climbing Centers on Saturday evening at the Fieldhouse. The seven aces are tied for the third-highest single-match total in the history of the men's volleyball program.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 19-7 overall and 9-3 in EIVA Tait Division matches. Mason has now won 10 of its past 11 matches, including the final three to close out the regular season. NJIT falls to 11-13 overall and 4-8 in EIVA Tait Division matches following the loss.
In the opening game, Mason led NJIT 19-17 when the Patriots went on a 5-0 run to open up a 24-17 lead and force the Highlanders to take a timeout. Included in the spurt were two service aces by Burik, whose wicked serve baffled NJIT all night. NJIT closed the deficit to two points at 28-26 but that was as close as they would get as senior middle blocker R.J. Goubeaux put down back-to-back kills for the 30-26 win.
George Mason used a similar run in the next game to take a 2-0 lead in the match. With the score tied at 24, the Patriots won the next four points to take a 28-24 lead. In similar fashion to the first game, the Highlanders closed to within two points at 29-27. On game point, senior outside hitter Hudson Bates and sophomore middle blocker Brandon McLaughlin combined to block Leonardo Paludo's attack at the net to end the game.
Leading by two games, Mason jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the third game before a resilient NJIT squad battled back to tie the game at 14. The score remained close until the Patriots scored six of seven points to turn a 19-18 lead into a 25-19 advantage. With George Mason leading 29-25, Paludo hit his serve into the net to give the Patriots the 3-0 victory.
A ceremony was held prior to the start of the match for Mason's senior class of Bates, Burik and Goubeaux. The emotion from the ceremony carried over into the match as the trio all played integral roles in the victory. Bates finished with nine kills on 22 swings and six blocks. Burik tallied seven kills, nine digs and three blocks, along with those seven service aces. Goubeaux, who leads the nation in blocks per game, finished with eight blocks and six kills in the match.
The Patriots wrapped up the regular season in second place in the EIVA Tait Division standings, earning a bye to the semifinal round of the EIVA Championship Tournament. The semifinal match will be played on April 24 at the home of top-seeded Penn State. The opponent will be decided this week after the conclusion of the first round and quarterfinal matches.
Article courtesy of George Mason athletics.