Fairfax, VA - The offense flowed through senior
Shank all night and the captain answered, as his
career-high 37 kills led the IPFW Mastodons to a thrilling
five-set, come-from-behind victory over the George Mason Patriots,
22-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-12.
Shank's astounding 37 kills came on 74 total attacks, as the senior posted just 10 errors en route to breaking his previous career best of 35 kills, set on Feb. 5, 2010 at Lewis.
Simply put, the first two sets of the match did not go in favor of the 'Dons. After falling behind early in the first frame, IPFW battled to make it close, before falling 25-22. As a team, IPFW managed a hitting percentage of just .189, with Shank's nine kills on 16 attacks being the lone bright spot of a rought start.
The second set would get even worse. After keeping the match close with a score held at 9-9, the Patriots rattled off five consecutive points and used a pair of later rallies to cruise to a 25-17 second set victory. Again, the Mastodons posted a hitting percentage of just .100 as the team struggled.
Down two sets to none on the road, everything pointed to a George Mason victory. Despite falling behind, Shank kept the team even-keel.
"We never actually went to the locker room after the second set," said Shank. "We all thought we were playing well and knew that we needed to keep the pressure on them and eventually, things started to go our way."
Things started to go IPFW's way almost immediately. The Mastodons jumped out to a 12-9 lead on the serve of Anthony Randolph and continued to push their lead. A Patriot service error gave IPFW a 17-13 lead and the sharp setting of junior Adam Quinn allowed the 'Dons to push the advantage further.
Shank tallied one of his 37 kills to close out a convincing 25-20 victory, swinging the momentum in favor of the visitors.
That momentum carried over into set number four, as well. With the score tied at 13 each, IPFW rattled off three straight points and, after the lead had dwindled to one at 22-21, the Mastodons again posted a trio of points, closing out a 25-21 third set victory to even the match at two sets each. In the fourth set, the Mastodons hit .314 overall and held the Patriots to a .171 attack percentage overall.
The fifth, and final, set was all IPFW from the start. Using three kills from Shank, IPFW jumped out to a 7-2 lead and forced the turn at 8-3. Mason would eventually cut that lead to two at 9-7, warranting a well-placed timeout from Arnie Ball. After the whistle, IPFW pushed forward, moving to match point at 14-12 on a kill by none other than Darryl Shank.
Adam Quinn took the serve and after the return, set up Shank once again and he smashed a kill for to seal the victory.
Quinn's 54 assists gave the Mastodon offense a steady flow that they have yet to see thus far in the 2011 season. Eddie Rivera posted 12 kills behind Shank's 37 and Corey Frain posted seven kills in the middle. Overall, Shank took swings on nearly 50% of the IPFW attacks (74 of 157).
Rivera tallied a season-best 12 digs and Shank added 11 more to lead IPFW the category. Frain also added seven blocks - a season high for an IPFW player.
The win pushes IPFW to 5-3 overall. The 'Dons will continue their roadstand next weekend as they face off with MIVA foe Loyola Friday (Feb. 4) before visiting the Carthage Redmen Saturday (Feb. 5). First serve is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern.