No. 11 George Mason Beats IPFW for its Seventh Straight Win
Fairfax, Va. - No. 11 George Mason defeated IPFW 3-1 (30-24, 30-27, 26-30, 30-25) on Saturday evening at the Fieldhouse to win its seventh consecutive match and improve its record to 16-6. With the win, the Patriots hold a 2-1 record in three meetings with the Mastodons (10-11) this season.
The two familiar foes have met at each team's home gym, in addition to a neutral court setting at the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic Tournament in Springfield, Mass. After losing the first meeting of the season in Fort Wayne, Ind. on Jan. 25, George Mason won the next two meetings, a 3-2 win on Feb. 22 as well as tonight's victory.
In the first game, Mason took an early 2-1 lead when junior opposite hitter Kyle Gramit and sophomore middle blocker Erik Lanham combined to block C.J. Macias' attack. From that point on, the Patriots never trailed, extending their lead to a high of seven points at 27-20 after consecutive service aces by Gramit. IPFW took the next three points after Gramit's second ace but it wasn't enough as Mason recovered to take a 30-24 opening-game win.
In the next game, the Patriots appeared to be on their way to an easy victory after taking a 20-15 lead. However, the Mastodons stormed back with five consecutive points to tie the game and cause George Mason head coach Fred Chao to take a timeout. After the timeout, Mason got back on the board with a Hudson Bates' kill. With the score tied at 22, the Patriots took the next three points to open up a 25-22 lead. The 3-0 run turned out to be the margin of victory as Mason took a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Patriots were unable to put away the Mastodons in the next game; however, as IPFW turned a 10-10 tie into a 15-10 lead with five straight points. The last two points came by way of Brock Ullrich service aces. Mason closed the deficit to one point on a few occasions but was never able to tie or take the lead, falling by a final score of 30-26.
Leading two games to one, the Patriots were determined not to allow another opportunity to win the match slip away. After falling behind early, Mason tied the score at 14 and won the next three points to take a 17-14 lead. Leading 29-25, Mason closed out the win with a block by Bates and Lanham.
The Patriots outhit the Mastodons .339 to .233 and registered 19 team blocks to IPFW's 11. Gramit led all players with 25 kills on 46 swings with four aces and six blocks. Bates had another impressive match with 19 kills, seven digs and seven blocks. Sophomore setter Ryan Kwiatkowski tallied a match-high 56 assists. Lanham was a force in the middle all night long, recording 11 blocks.
Macias led IPFW with 20 kills, while Oliver Kook chipped in 12. Ullrich led all players with five aces, and also had eight kills, six digs and two blocks.
George Mason hits the road for its next match, traveling to Columbus, Ohio to take on the 10th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a 7 p.m. match at St. John Arena on Friday, April 4. The Patriots and the Buckeyes have met once already this season, with Mason taking a 3-2 victory on Feb. 9 at the Fieldhouse.
Article courtesy of George Mason athletics.