No. 12 George Mason played and won its first five-set match of the season Thursday night. Playing at home against Ball State of the MIVA, GMU won the first two sets, but stumbled in the third and fourth, winning narrowly 18-16 in the fifth.
“It was not pretty volleyball tonight,” George Mason head coach Jay Hosack said. “But somehow the boys found a way to win against a scrappy Ball State team. We will learn a lot from this match.”
No. 11 Purdue Fort Wayne dropped a match in three sets to NJIT, and Thursday’s only other match saw UC San Diego get a five-set road win at Lindenwood.
Among the 13 matches on Friday’s NCAA schedule is No. 2 BYU (7-0) at No. 5 UC Irvine (3-2) for the second time this week. No. 6 UCLA (3-1) plays for the first time since losing to UC San Diego last Friday, taking on No. 10 Penn State (2-2) in the Lions’ den, aka Rec Hall. UCSD (4-2) has Quincy (1-4), and Ohio State (5-0) and USC (1-4) face off in the other Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge match in University Park, Pennsylvania.
The No. 7-ranked Lewis Flyers (3-3) host first-year program Urbana (0-6), and No. 15 Loyola-Chicago (1-5), looking to snap a five-match skid, plays at home versus Charleston (1-5).
League play is underway in the Conference Carolinas, with Mount Olive (5-3) versus Erskine (1-2) and Barton (1-0) taking on Emmanuel (0-4). CC members King (2-4) and Lees-McRae (0-1) line up for nonconference contests against Saint Francis (1-3) and Lindenwood (2-3), respectively.
Finally, Grand Canyon (3-2) has McKendree (3-2), and CSUN (1-4) hosts NAIA team Menlo College.
To watch any match that is being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV listings page for direct links to the broadcasts.
Still missing star outside hitter Hayden Wagner, George Mason (3-2) got double-digit kills from four of its five attackers to narrowly escape Ball State (3-2) in five sets Thursday night (26-24, 25-16, 19-25, 19-25, 18-16).
Sophomore Richie Hoff led all Patriot players with a career-high 20 kills, while redshirt junior Bradley Creamer set two new personal best with 16 kills and 15 digs. Senior outside hitter Sam Greenslade added 14 kills and 10 digs, while middle Jack Reese hit .474 with 12 kills and just three errors. Libero Trevor Kennan also had 15 digs, and middle Bryce Gatling led the blocking effort with six block assists and one solo.
On the Ball State side, Kaleb Jenness, a 6-6 sophomore outside hitter, led the match with 26 kills, hitting .388.
NJIT (3-2) rode strong serving, blocking, and back-court defense to an upset of No. 11 Purdue Fort Wayne (3-2) in straight sets (27-25, 25-19, 25-22). The Highlanders led their opponent in aces (4-1), blocks (12-5), and digs (26-19) and held the Mastodons to just a .193 team hitting percentage.
Fort Wayne’s Pelegrin Vargas, the reigning AVCA national player of the week, led his team with 11 kills, but had eight errors on 28 total swings to hit just .107. Jens Feldthus and Alvaro Gimeno topped the NJIT score sheet with 13 and 11 kills, hitting .600 and .471, respectively. As a team, NJIT hit .452, making just eight hitting errors in the whole match, a credit to setter Roque Nido, who finished the match with 36 assists.
Kyle McCauley once again led UC San Diego (4-2) with 20 kills as the Tritons collected a five-set win (25-23, 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13) over Lindenwood (2-3) in which UCSD had to bounce back from down 1-2.
In his 36 attack attempts, McCauley, who turned 21 Thursday, made just seven errors to hit .361 for the match.
“It was key for us to come back and win the fourth set pretty convincingly,” UCSD head coach Kevin Ring said. “We hit .222 in the fourth, not our best offensive production, but we held Lindenwood to a -.040 percentage and put a lot of pressure on them and kind of carried that momentum into the fifth set.”
Lindenwood once again hit negative in the fifth set, averaging a .200 team clip for the match. Diego Negron and AJ Lewis led the team from Missouri with 13 kills each.