Fourth Estate Sports Reporter Teodor Handarov
The Mason men’s volleyball team defeated Harvard University 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-19) sets Friday night at the RAC.
The Patriots (7-8) took the initiative from the very beginning of the match and left little chance for the Crimson (8-5).
The Patriots were again led by freshman Radoslav Popov with 13 kills and nine digs, followed by redshirt sophomore Paco Velez with 11 kills and seven digs. Mason’s defense was impressive on the night, especially the blocking line. Freshman Christian Malias registered three individual blocks to add to his eight kills, while junior Hunter Stevens assisted for seven block points. For the Crimson, DJ White was the only one to score in double digits with 13 kills.
Mason started the match well and quickly took a 4-0 lead with a serve ace by Velez, after which Harvard’s coach took a timeout. After the good start, the team never trailed in the set. The largest margin was eight at 9-1 by the Patriots, but Harvard’s persistent efforts managed to narrow it to just three at 20-17 and 24-21. Mason coach Frederick Chao opted to take a strategic timeout. It followed a play in which Stevens wrapped up the set at 25-21 in Mason’s favor.
The beginning of the second set was more contested and it was Harvard that had the first significant lead at 11-8. The Crimson, however, could not keep the momentum and allowed the Patriots to take the lead with Hunter Stevens’ block for 13-12. Mason’s lead extended to five later on but Harvard again gave the Patriots a scare in the closing stages of the set when they cut the lead to two. Coach Chao took another successful timeout at 23-21 and moments later Malias closed the set with a kill.
The third set was the most one-sided of all since Mason maintained the significant lead that it piled up early on. When they put their 10th point on the board Mason already had a six-point lead, which extended to seven at 13-6 and reached its peak at nine at 19-10. This was the team’s last point of the match as Mason won the next two with the set and match on a Velez kill.
On Saturday, Mason hosts Sacred Heart University at 4 p.m. at the RAC. Harvard, on the other hand, will remain on the road on Saturday and visit Princeton University for a 4 p.m. match as well.