Story Courtesy of George Mason
FAIRFAX, Va. – The George Mason Patriots took on the Barton College Bulldogs in their first match of the weekend. Led by a .421 hit percentage and 16 kills from Hayden Wagner, the Patriots defeated the Bulldogs 3-0.
Sophomore Hayden Wagner led the attack with 16 kills on 23 attempts (.565 hit percentage). It was the fourth time this season he led the team in kills, and the performance was tied for his second highest single-match total.
Brian Negron tallied 36 assists in the win, his highest total this season in a three-set match. Through Negron's setting, two Patriots hit over .500 (Min 9 TA), including Langston Payne's team-high .615 performance.
The opening frame began with the teams trading points to make the score 8-8. Shortly after, Mason became the first team of the night with a run of 3-0 or greater - giving them an 11-9 lead. The Patriots then ran into some trouble as the Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run to take an 18-15 lead. Needing to make something happen, Mason countered with a 3-0 run to tie the score at 18-18, and later tied it again at 20-20. With the later portion of the first set tightly contested to that point, Barton looked to have pulled away and took a 24-21 lead to push the Patriots to match point. The Green and Gold showed resiliency and tied the score at 24-24, beginning with a Langston Payne kill that was followed by a Hayden Wagner service ace. Mason faced elimination three times before a Brian Negron service ace gave Mason a 28-27 lead they wouldn't squander. Mason took the first set 29-27.
Mason built off the thrilling first set victory and came out on fire in the second set. Wagner's second ace of the night gave Mason an early 4-2 lead that they eventually extended to 11-4 behind Payne's sixth ace of the season. The Patriots kept the pressure on with a kill and a block from Jack Reese that put the lead at 15-6. It was smooth sailing from that point as the Patriots poured it on, taking nine of the last 15 points for a 25-11 victory. Mason hit .588 as a team in the set and held Barton's attack to a .000 hit percentage.
Looking to close things out in the third, Mason drew first blood with an early 4-0 run that had two kills and a service ace from Kyle Barnes for an early 8-3 lead. The following points came in bunches as the Patriots enjoyed a 3-0 run while the Bulldogs rode runs of 4-0 and 3-0 that took the score to 16-16. The teams traded points to the 22-22 mark with neither squad able to obtain two points in a row, until a Reese kill and a Luis Velez service ace were the final nails in the coffin to take the set 25-22, as well as the match in straight sets.
The Patriots face a quick turnaround and their biggest challenge yet, as the No. 1 Long Beach State 49ers are in town for a Saturday night matchup at the RAC. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. and anyone with a men's basketball ticket stub from their game on Saturday receives free admission to the volleyball match.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
• Mason's nine service aces marked the highest total of the season, and the highest since its last matchup against Barton when they compiled 11 on Mar. 24, 2017.
• Wagner's 16 kills marked a Patriot's highest total in a three-set match since Jack Wilson posted 17 vs. Charleston (W.V.) on Mar. 25, 2017.
• Mason's 62.5 team points was the highest total in a three-set match this season.