Penn State’s season at home came to an end and so did its winning streak.
No. 15 George Mason took the match in straight sets and denied Penn State the chance for a better spot in the conference rankings Saturday.
With the odds stacked against them in a game that meant better placement in EIVA, the Nittany Lions brought competition against George Mason but their fight faded out as the match proceeded.
“Our volunteer assistant coach Dillan Bennett said after set two, ‘Right now, George Mason just wants to win more than we want to win,’ and that was really tough to hear,” Jason Donorovich said. “Every team you play, you want to win, but every team that plays us, no matter where we are—home or away—they want to come in and beat us, and if we don't match that, we're going to be on our heels at one point in the match, at least."
The patriots hit .514 for the match ,which sums up their performance against Penn State.
“Playing a team of that caliber and beating them twice during the regular season in three straight is not something years ago people would’ve thought could happen,” George Mason coach Jay Hosack said.
“This loss is easily said,” coach Mark Pavlik said. “The game is won and loss at the net when everything balances out and we we were not able to raise our execution level, blocking or defensievly, to counteract that, and I think for me that was the match right there.”
Senior Matt McLaren feels that although service pressure from Mason was a factor in the loss, the team ability to stay on top of things got the best of them.
“I think there were parts where we broke down and I think we could’ve done a better job at coming back from that,” McLaren said. “I think we dwelled on what was happening to much.”
“I think we could have handled last night and tonight much better ,those are not two teams that are necessarily better than us,” Donorovich added.
To keep pushing forward, it’s pretty simple according to Pavlik, his team will take this loss with them but not the mistakes made or the thought of what could have happened.
“The faith that I have in this group has been brought on from the way they have approached this year from the start,” Pavlik said. “They have taken it to heart and they have worked really hard.”
In set one, Penn State got off to a slow start, falling behind Mason 7-1. The closest the set would come was 22-14 but the Patriots took the set for themselves 25-16.
Penn State responded in set two with a 9-6 lead, setting up the set for a back and forth battle. 15 tied scores brought Mason to set point 24-23 to take set two.
The final set was close for the beginning half but Penn State struggled with the offense of Mason the rest of the way to hand over the match 25-18.
In reflection of the team, It is not about who says Penn State is deserving of victory or not, or how far it can go to compete, but instead the Nittany Lions know it is a championship team even in a loss against one of its toughest opponents when the game really mattered.
“You can take the six guys on the bench and the six guys on the court and I think we can win no matter what, we just have to translate what we do in practice onto the court,” Donorovich said.