by Doug Page
FAIRFAX, VA. – Despite an exciting first set between the Bulldogs and Patriots, the Barton College men's volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision (29-27, 25-11, 25-22) on Friday night in a non-conference matchup.
Barton (5-6) saw its five-match winning streak come to an end as the Bulldogs hit .185 as a team on the night. George Mason (4-6) hit .580 as a team in the second set, en route to hitting .421 overall in the match. The Patriots tallied 43 kills compared to 29 for BC.
Sophomore Angelos Mandilaris paced the Bulldogs with 10 kills in the match. A. Mandilaris also tallied a pair of aces on the night to go along with two solo blocks. Junior Aleksa Brkovic added seven kills for the Barton, while junior Nick Leary notched five kills and hit .667. Redshirt junior Oscar Fiorentino tallied 23 assists and three digs for the Bulldogs, freshman libero Wilfredo Rivera recorded a team-high five digs for BC.
Hayden Wagner's match-high 16 kills fueled the Patriots in the match as Wagner hit .565 on 23 attempts. Wagner also recorded three aces and three block assists. Langston Payne added nine kills for George Mason and five block assists, while Brian Negron tallied 36 assists, two aces, three kills, and one solo block for the Patriots.
Barton opened the match by storming out to a 7-4 lead against the Patriots following a 2-0 run that was capped by an ace from A. Mandilaris. The Patriots countered with a 3-0 rally to knot the score 7-7 as Wagner tallied consecutive kills before an attack error by BC. Barton held two more leads in the set until George Mason used a 3-0 run to take an 11-9 advantage.
The Bulldogs continued to rally against the Patriots and would take the lead again in the set as a 4-0 spurt put BC on top 18-15 and forced George Mason to use a timeout in the process. The run would be countered by a 3-0 rally from the Patriots as they forced Barton to call a timeout to try and stop the momentum shift. A. Mandilaris answered with a kill to give BC a 19-18 lead. Kills by Brkovic and A. Mandilaris coupled with an attack error by the Patriots put BC up 23-21 in the set. Following its last timeout of the set, the Patriots saw Barton move to within a point of winning the set as Leary delivered a kill for the Bulldogs.
George Mason stayed alive by winning three-straight points to knot the score 24-24. Barton would take leads at 25-24, 26-25, and 27-26 but was unable to take the two-point needed for the victory. The Patriots made the final push in taking the set as a kill by Wagner followed by an ace from Negron along with an error by the Bulldogs gave George Mason the 29-27 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the set.
The Patriots used a pair of 3-0 runs in the second set to take an 8-3 lead, leading to a timeout by the Bulldogs to try and stop the momentum. BC would win the point out of the timeout as Brkovic recorded a kill to trim the deficit to 8-4. The Patriots then upped their lead to 11-4 and eventually 19-8 after a 3-0 run. Barton trimmed the gap to 20-10 after a service error by George Mason, only to see a 4-0 rally put the Patriots within a point of taking the set. Two points later, a kill by Jack Reese secured the 25-11 victory in the set and a 2-0 lead in the match for the Patriots.
The Bulldogs responded in the third set by rallying from a 9-4 deficit on the scoreboard to cut the deficit to 9-7. BC would then find itself trailing 13-8 after a kill by Wagner and take some momentum by going on a 4-0 run to pull within a point of the Patriots at 13-12. Barton would knot the score at 16-16 after consecutive attack errors by George Mason. Barton fought to keep the score tied in the set until the Patriots took a 23-22 advantage. A kill by Reese gave George Mason a 24-22 lead and a timeout by BC. Looking to win the point out of the stoppage, the Patriots denied Barton the opportunity to extend the set as Luis Velez served up an ace to give George Mason the 25-22 victory and a 3-0 sweep of BC in the process.
George Mason committed 16 service errors in the match while the Bulldogs committed nine. Barton had 17 attack errors on 65 chances in the match compared to 11 errors on 76 chances for the Patriots.
The Bulldogs return home to host Queens (N.C.) inside Wilson Gym on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. Barton hosts a Conference Carolinas matchup against Belmont Abbey on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.