No. 1 Penn State Falls to No. 14 George Mason

3/7/2008

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Fairfax, Va. - The top-ranked Penn State men's volleyball team dropped its first contest of the year, falling to No. 14 George Mason in four games (23-30, 22-30, 30-17, 31-33) Friday night in Fairfax, Va., in front of 1,114 fans. The Nittany Lions fall to 18-1 overall and 9-1 in the EIVA Tait while the Patriots improve to 11-6 and 4-3 in league action.

Junior outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led the Lions with 34 kills, one off his career-high while junior middle hitter Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted 11 kills, junior opposite Ryan Sweitzer (Lancaster, Pa.) tallied nine kills and sophomore middle hitter Max Lipsitz (Williamsville, N.Y.) notched six kills. George Mason outhit Penn State .274 to .266 for the match.

Senior setter Luke Murray (East Petersburg, Pa.) dished out 56 assists and also joined freshman libero Dennis Del Valle (Toa Alta, Puerto Rico) in leading the team with eight digs as Sweitzer chipped in seven and junior outside hitter Jay Stauffer (Columbia, Pa.) recorded six digs. The Lions topped the Patriots in digging, 35 to 21.

George Mason claimed the blocking battle, 16.0 to 7.5. Lipsitz headed the Lions' list with four stuffs as Holt and Sweitzer each added three, Stauffer notched two and Murray and Anderson posted one apiece.

Both squads recorded six service aces, as Holt led Penn State with four and Anderson produced two.

Kyle Gramit and Hudson Bates led George Mason with 18 and 14 kills, respectively.

The Patriots started the match off on fire, taking the 5-0 lead on two Gramit service aces and going up 13-6 on a Bates kill and another service ace. A Murray and Holt block brought the Lions within seven at 17-10 but George Mason responded with two kills to go up 19-10. An Anderson kill pulled Penn State to within nine at 23-14 and the teams traded points twice before a Patriot triple block gave George Mason the 27-16 lead. The squads exchanged kills and a Patriot attack error, Anderson kill and Holt block trimmed the George Mason lead to 28-20 but a Patriot block ended the game, 30-23.

The second game remained close early on, with a Sweitzer kill knotting the game at 8-8 before a George Mason kill from Gramit sparked a 4-0 Patriot run to put them up 12-8. A Mason attack error and an Anderson and Holt block pulled the Lions within two at 12-10 and after a trade of kills, George Mason took off, scoring the next five points to go up 18-11. An Anderson kill halted the run but the Patriots claimed the next two points to take the 20-12 lead. The squads exchanged points four times before a George Mason block put the Patriots ahead 25-16. A Holt kill brought the Lions within seven at 25-18 and an Anderson kill and a Lipsitz and Stauffer block closed the gap to six at 26-20 but a Bates kill pushed the Patriot advantage to seven at 27-20 before a Burik kill gave George Mason the game, 30-22.

Penn State went up 11-8 in the third game on a Murray kill and Anderson ace. The Lions maintained the advantage, going up 14-11 on an Anderson kill and 15-12 on a Stauffer put-away. Following a George Mason kill from Gramit, Lion kills from Anderson and Sweitzer and a Patriot attack error gave Penn State the 18-13 lead. The teams traded points three times and an Anderson kill put the Lions up 22-17 before a Holt went back to the service line and ripped an ace, sparking an 8-0 Penn State run to end the game, 30-17.

The Nittany Lions took the early lead in the fourth game, going up 10-6 on an Anderson kill and 13-10 on a Lipsitz put-away. But George Mason responded with a triple block and an ace, and coupled with a Penn State attack error, tied the game at 13-13. Five ties ensued before a Lipsitz kill and a Lipsitz and Sweitzer block put the Nittany Lions ahead 20-18. A Penn State service error and a Mason kill by Bates again knotted the game at 20-20 and the teams traded points several times, with two consecutive George Mason kills giving it the 26-24 lead. Out of a Penn State timeout, a Holt kill trimmed the Patriot lead to one and the teams traded points before a Lion triple block from Lipsitz, Sweitzer and Stauffer tied the game at 27-27. George Mason responded with a block of its own to go up 28-27 and an Anderson kill was followed by a Lion attack error to give the Patriots match point at 29-28. Another Anderson kill preceded a Burik kill to put George Mason up 30-29, but a Patriot service error evened the score at 30-30. A Lion error returned the favor but a Sweitzer kill again tied the game at 31-31. Kills from Burik and Gramit closed out the game for George Mason, 33-31.

The Nittany Lions remain on the road, traveling to Princeton on Saturday, March 8 for a 4:00 p.m. contest in Princeton, N.J. Penn State then heads west to take on Cal Baptist and No. 4 Long Beach State on March 14-15 in Long Beach, Calif., before returning home to host No. 11 Ohio State and No. 9 Ball State on Friday and Saturday, March 28-29 at Rec Hall.

For more information on the Penn State men's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.

Article courtesy of Penn State athletics.

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