No. 12 George Mason Closes Out No. 14 Loyola-Chicago, 3-1
Chicago, Ill. - The twelfth-ranked George Mason men's volleyball team found itself in a familiar position on Saturday evening at Alumni Gym in Chicago, Ill., up 2-1 on the road against a nationally-ranked opponent in No. 14 Loyola (Ill.).
Just one day ago, the Patriots were in the same position against No. 9 IPFW, but were unable to hold on for the victory. This time around, Mason refused to allow its opponent back into the match, defeating the Ramblers in four games (29-31, 30-20, 30-26, 31-29).
Mason fell behind early, dropping a back-and-forth first game, 31-29. The Patriots held a 28-26 lead in the game but were unable to close out the Ramblers as Loyola (Ill.) won three straight points to take the lead. After a kill by junior opposite hitter Kyle Gramit tied the score at 29, Loyola (Ill.) closed out the game on back-to-back kills by junior outside hitter Joe Guntli.
George Mason's attack turned up the heat in the second and third games, hitting .524 in a 10-point game two victory and .531 in a four-point game three win. In the second game, the Patriots took an early lead at 4-3 and never trailed. In the third game, the score was tied at 23 when Mason took over, finishing the game on a 7-3 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Gramit scored the final point of the game with a kill off of a nice feed from sophomore setter Ryan Kwiatkowski.
In the fourth game, the Patriots got off to a great start, scoring the first three points. After the tough start, Loyola (Ill.) kept its composure and held a one-point lead at 28-27 after a kill by Guntli. Mason won the next two points to force match point at 29-28. However, a service error by Gramit extended the match, tying the score at 29. Gramit made up for his error, though, with a booming swing to give the Patriots the next point and a 30-29 lead. With the match on the line, senior middle blocker R.J. Goubeaux and Kwiatkowski formed a wall at the net and blocked senior opposite hitter Ian Anderson's attack to close out the win for Mason.
Gramit carried the Patriots' attack all night long, finishing the match with a career-high 30 kills. He also had two aces and seven blocks. Junior outside hitter Hudson Bates chipped in 11 kills, while Goubeaux finished with 10 kills, along with a match-high eight blocks. Kwiatkowski narrowly missed a double-double with 54 assists and nine digs.
Four players finished with double-digit kills for the Ramblers. Anderson led the way with 23, Guntli had 16, sophomore outside hitter Krisjanis Berzins also finished with 16 and junior middle blocker Nick Lamoureux tallied 10.
George Mason plays its first EIVA Tait Division match of the season on Friday, Feb. 1 against St. Francis (Pa.) in Loretto, Pa. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Article courtesy of George Mason athletics.