Courtesy of Teodor Handarov.
CHARLESTON, WV – The George Mason University men's volleyball swept the University of Charleston-West Virginia 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-13) away on Saturday afternoon to register their first win of the season.
Sophomore Radoslav Popov and redshirt sophomore Jack Wilson led the Patriots (1-5) with nine kills each while Ryan Santos and Rajahl Moxey had eight a piece for the Golden Eagles (1-5). Freshman setter Brian Negron had a game-high 23 assists and contributed three of the 10 Mason service aces in the match. Redshirt freshman Weston Barnes repeated his performance from Friday night's match against Ohio State University and led all players with 10 digs.
It was the Golden Eagles who opened the scoring of the match but the Patriots responded with three unanswered points on Velez's serve. Mason's lead grew gradually from that moment on and by the time UCWV called a timeout, Mason had a resounding 20-12 lead. Shortly after, Wilson gave the Patriots their first set point with a serve ace. Although it was saved by the Golden Eagles, the Patriots capitalized on the second opportunity to close the set and did so at 25-15.
Coach Fred Chao's men carried the momentum into the second set and opened the scoring with a kill by Wilson after a good defensive effort. Velez produced two consecutive aces on his serving sequence and set the tone for the rest of the set. Coach Chao introduced some new faces to the match and the fresh legs played a key role in the outcome of the set. Junior Hermann De Gennaro was giving the Golden Eagles problems with his serve and redshirt sophomore Graham Gresham capitalized on UCWV's struggles to give Mason a five-point lead at 10-5. The following minutes were for the Golden Eagles and they went on a run that saw them within only two at 14-12, but a series of serving errors prevented them from putting even more pressure on the Patriots. A kill by Wilson, an ace by De Gennaro, and a block by Gresham increased the lead back to five at 20-15. A timeout by UCWV moments later helped them find a way to get within three at 23-20. What followed was a long play that ended in favor of the Patriots to kill the Golden Eagles' momentum. On the following play, De Gennaro sent a strong kill down the right side to win the set for the Patriots and give them a two-set advantage.
The Golden Eagles started the third set with two consecutive points, but a 6-0 run by Mason on Velez's serve put the momentum back in the Patriots' hands. A well-timed timeout by UCWV's coach helped the Golden Eagles go on a 5-0 run themselves and regain the lead at 7-6, but it was short-lived and De Gennaro put the Patriots in front once again at 9-8. That point was the first from an 11-1 run by the Patriots, who built a double-digit lead at 19-9. Two aces by Velez gave Mason match point at 24-12. Moments later UCWV committed a serving error to close the set at 25-13 and the match at 3-0 in favor of Mason.
The Patriots take the court next at IPFW on Friday, February 6 at 7 p.m.