March 4, 2011

Shank, Rivera Lead Mastodons to Season Sweep of George Mason

Fort Wayne, IN - A double-double by Darryl Shank and highly efficient play out of Eddie Rivera helped lead the Mastodons to a four-set victory and season sweep of the George Mason Patriots, 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24. Shank paced the IPFW attack with 21 kills and 11 digs while Rivera tallied 17 of his own alongside a .429 attack percentage.

The victory is IPFW's second of the season over the Patriots who were receiving votes in this week's AVCA Coaches' Poll.

Corey Frain opened IPFW's sharp opening set with a service ace, giving the 'Dons an early 5-3 lead. Rivera posted an ace of his own to grow IPFW's advantage to 9-6 before the gates opened. George Mason's attack error pushed the score to 14-8 and from there, the Mastodons captured 11 of the next 17 points to seal a runaway opening set win, 25-14. As a team, IPFW hit at a .440 clip and were led by Shank's six markers on 10 attempts.

The Patriots, who entered the match as the third-best blocking team in the country, tallied zero blocks in the opening set rout.

Set number two stayed tight until deep into the match. IPFW took their first two-point lead of the set with a three-man stop at the net, taking an 18-16 lead. A whistle from the Mastodon bench halted a brief Mason run that saw the visitors steal away a brief 19-18 lead. Mason's costly overpass gave IPFW a commanding 23-21 lead in the frame before Eddie Rivera slammed the door with a huge cross-court kill to take a two games to none lead heading to the break.

Again in the second set, Mastodon senior Darryl Shank went 6-10 while posting a team-best five digs in the second set.

With the score at 7-6 in favor of the Patriots, the Mastodons rode the serve of Rivera to seven straight points to take a commanding 13-7 lead. Hanging on to that advantage, the Mastodons held a 17-12 lead before the Patriots would answer with a seven-point run of their own, giving them a 19-17 lead. From there, the set went neck-and-neck. An IPFW error gave Mason a 23-21 lead and from there, the Patriots would gut out a third set victory behind a kill from Mark Jones, 25-23.

In the third set Patriot victory, Mason posted 4.5 blocks to stifle IPFW's attack and push the Mastodon percentage to .172.

The fourth frame opened in favor of the Patriots 5-3. That brief two-point lead would be the only such advantage for either side until late in the match's final set. Trailing 17-15, Rivera's serve sparked a four-point IPFW run that warranted a timeout from the Patriot bench. Out of the timeout, the Patriots would storm back, though, taking a 22-21 lead.

From there, the match belonged to Ivan Matos. He posted huge kills to tie the set at both 22 and 23 and, after two rally-saving blocks, punched home another to move the set to match point at 25-24. With Matos on the serve and the crowd on their feet, the set went to a Rivera and for the second time in three sets, the freshman slammed home the set-winner to seal a 26-24 win.

Leading the Mastodons to victory were blockers Corey Frain and Rob Samp. The pair paced a defensive effort that tallied 20 block assists - a team best for the 2011 campaign. Samp led the squad with six stops, tying a career-high set last season against the same George Mason squad.

Shank's double-double (21 kills, 11 digs) is his second of the season. His first came in his career night earlier this season at George Mason as he tallied 37 kills and 11 digs.

The win evens the Mastodons season mark at 7-7. They will return to action tomorrow evening, as they host the Sacred Heart Pioneers. First serve in the match is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne.

~Dons~

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