George Mason Collides with Harvard to Close Out the Regular Season
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George Mason Collides with Harvard to Close Out the Regular Season

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY VS. HARVARD UNIVERSITY
WHEN: Friday, April 13, 2018 at 7 p.m. | Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: RAC Gym (1,550)
RECORDS: George Mason (15-11), Harvard (11-11)
SERIES RECORD: George Mason leads 12-8
LAST MEETING: George Mason def. Harvard 3-0 [25-23, 25-17, 25-22] on Feb. 12, 2017 (Cambridge, Mass.)

Senior ceremonies will take place on Saturday (April 14) afternoon. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 2:55 p.m.

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FAIRFAX, Va. – The 2018 regular season comes to a close this weekend as the George Mason Patriots play host to the second-place Harvard Crimson for a back-to-back this weekend. Saturday's match will be the annual "Senior Night" ceremony with Johnny Gomez, Brian Negron and Christian Malias being this year's players that will be honored.

Despite the 3-2 setback to Penn State on April 7, George Mason collected seven votes in the April 9 edition of the DI/II AVCA Coaches' Poll. The Patriots were joined by their Saturday opponent, Penn State, as the two teams to earn votes and narrowly miss the top-15, with the Nittany Lions picking up four votes.

George Mason is in first place in the EIVA and still control its own destiny to win the regular season EIVA title. The number one seed is up for grabs between George Mason and Harvard, while Princeton holds a two-match lead over Charleston (W.V.) for the four seed. Penn State will be the three seed.

PATRIOT POINTS

• George Mason narrowed its magic number to one for clinching home court advantage in the EIVA Tournament after a 1-1 outing this past weekend. This weekend's back-to-back against second-place Harvard will decide who hosts the 2018 EIVA Tournament.

• A regular season conference title would be the Patriots' first in the era where the regular season champion hosts the EIVA Tournament (2000-present). George Mason hosted the EIVA final four in 1994, a responsibility that predetermined that off-season.

•  If the Patriots beat Harvard in either of the two matches this weekend, they will finish the regular season in first place.

• The Patriots' 11-match conference winning streak set a record for the longest in program history. The streak lasted from February 16 to April 6, and edged out the 2016 team's nine conference match winning streak as the new record holder.

• Senior Brian Negron became second all-time in George Mason history for career assists in the second set against Penn State. In his four years with the program, Negron has registered 3,588 helpers and will enter Friday 269 shy of tying Kriss Eglitis for the all-time record.

• In the Patriots' last two matches, RS-senior Christian Malias, junior Kyle Barnes and sophomore Hayden Wagner were at the top of the team leader board in kills. Against Penn State on April 7, the trio each posted double-digit kills to mark the fifth time this season those three have notched at least 10 kills in the same match. It was also the seventh time this season George Mason has had at least three players record double-digit kills in a match.

• Malias was the Patriots' most efficient pin hitter with an even .300 clip (20-8-40) in his eight sets played. The RS-senior passed James Claney for the 12th most career kills in program history (rally-scoring era) and now has 645 to his credit. If Malias picks up 55 more kills this season, he'd be the 12th rally-scoring era player to join the 700 club.

• Malias is also 13 digs shy of becoming the third Patriot to notch 500 career kills and digs in the rally-scoring era. Shaun Powell (1537 kills, 512 digs) and Kyle Gramit (1465 kills, 558 digs) are the other two to hold that honor.

• Graduate Student Johnny Gomez will enjoy his second senior ceremony this weekend and will look to become the sixth Patriot ever to reach 700 digs in his George Mason career. Currently at 698, Gomez notched his 200th dig of 2018 in George Mason's win vs. Saint Francis [Pa.] (April 6), joining Max McFarland as the only Patriot to amass 200 digs in a season twice in the rally-scoring era. Gomez's 2018 total of 212 is currently the fifth highest single-season total in a rally-scoring era season.

• RS-freshman Jack Reese and sophomore Bryce Gatling increased their season blocks per set averages in the Patriots' two matches last weekend. Reese led the team with nine over eight sets (1.13 per set) while Gatling posted five vs. Penn State (two solo). Gatling (11 solo blocks this season) recorded his 10th solo block in the third set vs. Penn State, tying him with Erik Lanham (2007) for the fastest rally-scoring era player to 10 solo blocks in a season – requiring just 48 sets played.

• Team statistics update: Mason leads the EIVA in kills per set (12.18) and assists per set (11.30). As of Thursday, the team ranks 14th in the nation in attack percentage (.277) while checking in at 12th in kills per set.

• Awards/Honors Archive: Johnny Gomez - Preseason Off The Block/SpringBak Inc. Top Player from Florida; Hayden Wagner - EIVA Offensive Player of the Week (Jan. 22); Johnny Gomez - EIVA Defensive Player of the Week (Jan. 22); Jack Reese - EIVA Defensive Player of the Week (Jan. 29); Kyle Barnes - EIVA Offensive Player of the Week (Feb. 19); Hayden Wagner - Off The Block/MoltenUSA Opposite of the Week (Feb. 26); Hayden Wagner - EIVA Offensive Player of the Week (Feb. 26); Johnny Gomez - EIVA Defensive Player of the Week (Feb. 26); Kyle Barnes - EIVA Offensive Player of the Week (March 26).

HISTORY VS. HARVARD
George Mason has played Harvard every year at least twice since 2012 and have squared off three times in the 2013, 2015 and 2016 seasons. Two of Mason's postseason victories in the last few years came against the Crimson, including the first round of the 2016 EIVA Tournament. Setter Brian Negron registered 60 assists against the Crimson last season (Feb. 11, 2017) and still stands as his single-match career high. The longest head-to-head winning streak for either team is four matches, with George Mason's lasting from 1984-2012.

A LOOK AT THE CRIMSON (11-11, 10-2 EIVA)
Harvard, picked to finish fifth in the EIVA, have won six straight matches and have won nine straight matches in EIVA play. Senior Riley Moore is leading the conference in hitting percentage (.448) and was recently named Off The Block/Molten Middle Blocker of the Week for April 3. Mason head coach Jay Hosack will be tasked with formulating a game plan to contain Harvard's unorthodox 6-2 offense that utilizes two setters, sophomore Matthew Ctvrtlik and senior Marko Kostich. Ctvrtlik is the only DI/II player to record a triple-double this season, a feat he accomplished on Jan. 20 at Ball State. The Crimson represent the last team on the Patriots' regular season schedule and the third team they will play in a back-to-back format this season.

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