No. 11 George Mason Downs St. Francis (Pa.), 3-1

3/20/2008

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Fairfax, Va. - After 12 days away from the court, the 11th-ranked George Mason men's volleyball team had to shake off some cobwebs in its return to the court against EIVA Tait Division rival St. Francis (Pa.). After dropping the opening game 30-27, the Patriots rebounded to sweep the next three by final scores of 30-25, 30-25 and 30-27 to snap a five-match losing streak against the Red Flash.

Despite holding a 22-6 record in the all-time series against St. Francis (Pa.), Mason has had trouble recently against the Red Flash, dropping the past five matches in the series, including this season's conference opener at DeGol Arena in Loretto, Pa. Included among those five losses were two consecutive St. Francis (Pa.) wins in the semifinal round of the EIVA Championship Tournament that have ended the Patriots' past two seasons.

Mason got off to a rough start in this one, falling behind 28-21 in the first game before reeling off six consecutive points to cut the deficit to one. It was as close as the Patriots would get, though, as an Alex Fortney kill gave the Red Flash game point at 29-27. St. Francis (Pa.) emerged victorious on the next point when junior Hudson Bates was charged with an attack error to give the Red Flash a 30-27 win.

After falling behind early in the second game, the Patriots tied the score midway through and cruised to a 30-25 victory to even the match at one. The third game ended by an identical 30-25 score in favor of Mason, but the Patriots went about their business differently this time around, taking an early lead and holding on for the win in a game they never trailed.

In the fourth game, Mason fell behind early, trailing 7-4. The Patriots scored the next seven points to take an 11-7 lead they would never relinquish. Bates closed out the match with his 18th kill on 35 swings to give Mason the win to improve to 13-6 overall and 6-3 in EIVA Tait Division matches.

On his fourth kill of the night, Bates reached the 1,000 kill plateau for his career. In addition to the milestone, he also had eight digs and three blocks on the night. Junior Kyle Gramit recorded a match-high 22 kills on .395 hitting. Mason hit .304 as a team in the match and finished with 12.5 team blocks.

Jordan Varee led the Red Flash with 17 kills, while Dave Reilly chipped in 15. Markus Schulze finished with 10 digs in the match.

George Mason returns to action on Saturday with a 4 p.m. EIVA Tait Division match against the Juniata College Eagles at the Fieldhouse. Saturday's match will be Mason Spirit Day. Fans wearing green or gold to the match will be admitted for just $1.

Article courtesy of George Mason athletics.

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