Newark, NJ - After jumping out to a convincing two-set lead, the Mastodon offense sputtered down the stretch, eventually falling to the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders in the fifth set, 31-29, 30-25, 23-30, 24-30, 12-15.
The 'Dons came out of the gates firing, opening up to a five-point lead at 20-15 in the first frame. The feisty Raider squad battled back to knot the set at 21 a piece before fighting for points back-and-forth.
With the score tied at 29-29, the Scarlet Raiders misfired on a pair of attacks, with the errors giving the 'Dons a 31-29 first set victory.
The 'Dons carried that momentum in the second stanza as Ivan Matos took the opening serve and gave the 'Dons an immediate 5-0 lead. That advantage would last throughout the set, growing to as many as seven at 24-17 before a Scarlet Raider attack error close the second set win 30-25.
With the two-set lead in hand though, the VolleyDons luck ran out.
A five-point run by the Scarlet Raiders gave the home squad a 17-12 lead in the third set and another five-point run late extended the Rutgers-Newark lead to 29-23. An IPFW error on the next serve closed the set 30-23. As a team, the 'Dons hit just .032 in the third frame, with nine kills and eight errors on 31 total attacks.
In the fourth set, the anemic IPFW offense returned, posting eerily similar offensive numbers with just nine kills and eight errors on 27 attacks. In much the same fashion as set three, the Raiders built and maintained a steady five-point lead en route to a commanding 30-24 victory. As a team, IPFW hit just .037 in the set.
In the fifth set, the streaky Raider squad rattled off an impressive five-point run to take an 8-4 advantage at the turn. Senior Oliver Kook and junior Darryl Shank willed the squad back into contention, sparking a 4-0 run to tie the game at 11, but two kills and a dagger of a service ace later, the Scarlet Raiders were celebrating a miraculous comeback victory with a 15-12 final set win.
Ivan Matos, fresh off a road trip to his native Puerto Rico, helped pace the IPFW offense with 12 kills. Darryl Shank, the team leader in kills, led the team in the match with 15 kills. Dan Mader posted 33 assists from his setter position while Oliver Kook led the defensive front with nine block assists.
The loss drops the 'Dons to 8-10 overall. They will look to break the two-game slide tomorrow night (Sat. Mar. 20) as they visit the George Mason Patriots in Fairfax, Va. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.