Springfield, Mass. - February 11, 2011 - Despite winning the opening two sets, the Springfield College men's volleyball team could not hang on as George Mason rallied to a 3-2 win in Blake Arena in EIVA Tait Conference play on Friday evening. The Patriots were victorious by the scores of 20-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-13.
The win boosts George Mason's record to 9-2, 3-0 in league play, while the Pride drop to 3-7, 0-3.
Several members of the Pride had career performances in the loss. Alberto Bravo pounded out a career-best 25 kills at a .312 clip, while Mike Becker had the best performance of his young career, producing 64 assists, nine digs, five kills, and three blocks. Cal Palumbo dominated out of the middle as he racked up 14 kills on a .765 hitting percentage. Mike Pelletier also added 14 kills, while Tommy Crow notched a career-high 14 digs.
As a team, Springfield's offense had its best performance of the season, hitting .372 in the match. However, Springfield didn't do itself any favors as it struggled from the service line, racking up 21 service errors.
For the Patriots, Mark Jones was unstoppable in the match as he registered 30 kills at a .354 clip. Max McFarland added 12 kills, while Eric Lucas chipped in with 11. Brandon Joyner dished out 52 assists and Patrick Maloney came of the bench to provide a spark with a team-best 12 digs in just three games.
Despite leading by as many as five in the opening set, Springfield found itself up just one, 20-19, after a Jones kill. A Pelletier kill and Falcone solo block gave Springfield a three-point cushion and back-to-back Patriot errors handed the Pride the first set. Springfield totaled 16 kills at a .464 clip in the stanza, with Bravo pounding out six kills on eight errorless swings.
Springfield's offense was even more impressive in the second set as it accounted for 20 kills while hitting .545. After Lucas evened the set early at four-all, Springfield opened up a 8-2 run capped off by a Pelletier kill to take a commanding 12-6 lead. The Patriots hung around and got within three at 21-18 after a Springfield error, only to have a pair of miscues give the hosts a five-point lead. Bravo closed out the set with his 12th kill of the match as Springfield was one set away from victory.
The third set was much tighter as it featued 15 ties and five lead changes. After a Jones error made it 20-all, Jones and Shaun Sibley connected on kills to give the visitors a 22-20 lead and forced Springfield into a timeout. Two-straight Springfield attack errors gave Mason set point, but the Pride battled back to three consecutive points off two kills by Bravo and another by Crow to make it interesting. However, out of a timeout, Joyner connected with Jones to give the visitors the set.
McFarland paced the visitors in the fourth as he racked up five of his 12 kills. The Patriots opened up a five-point lead at 12-7 after a Jones kills, only to have Springfield battle back and close within two on a Pelletier kill at 21-19. However, the visitors stood tall, getting two kills from Jones and another from Piotr Dabrowski to earn set point. The Patriots then sent the match to a fifth game after a Lucas and Dabrowski double block.
In the fifth, Crow cranked a kill to make it 8-7 in favor of the Patriots. Mason then scored the next two points on a pair of Springfield errors to force the Pride into a timeout. The lead grew to four at 12-8 after another Jones kill, and Springfield called its final timeout of the evening. But the youthful Pride showed resilience down the stretch, battling to make it 14-13 after a big block by Falcone and Crow. George Mason called a timeout to regroup, and in fitting fashion, Jones ripped a ball cross court to complete the comeback.
Springfield will return to Blake Arena on Saturday evening when it takes on Philadelphia Biblical at 7:00 pm. The Crimson Eagles are currently ranked ninth in the country in this week's national poll.
(Photo by Cindi Williamson of Fat Dog Fotos)