George Mason schedules home match vs. UC Irvine for 2019

Photo courtesy of George Mason athletics

[Editor’s note: Off the Block in collaboration with the EIVA is presenting The Top 15 EIVA Non-Conference Matches. This list spotlights the best non-conference matches scheduled for EIVA teams in 2019 and will be the first time several of these matches have been publicly announced. George Mason versus UC Irvine is ranked No. 2 on the list.]

George Mason will get a shot on its home court next season to end the 24-year drought against a likely preseason top-10 nationally ranked team.

Coach Jay Hosack informed Off the Block that George Mason will play host to UC Irvine on Jan. 12 in Fairfax, Virginia, as the two teams renew their non-conference series for the third time in the last four years.

The Patriots are 3-7 all-time in the series and have not defeated the Anteaters since 1995, including a five-game loss the last time it had a match match against UC Irvine in 2016. In addition, UC Irvine at home swept George Mason in non-conference play last season en route to earning the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We always look froward to playing top-quality teams from the West Coast, and UCI is always at the top of that list,” Hosack said. “Our relationship with them is strong, and I look forward to continuing our schedule with them whenever we get the chance.”

This early season match-up will feature two of the top opposites in the nation.

UC Irvine opposite Karl Apfelbach finished last season 11th in the nation with a 3.76 kills per game average and had a career-high .307 attack percentage. The All-Big West senior contributed double-digit kills in all but two matches along with having 15 kills in the team’s five-game loss against Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament opening round.

George Mason All-EIVA opposite Hayden Wagner was second in the conference and in the nation’s top 25 averaging 3.48 kills per game. In addition, Wagner had more than 20 kills in two conference matches to help the Patriots win their first EIVA regular season championship during the rally scoring era.

Apfelbach and Wagner also each had a match-high 16 kills in UC Irvine’s victory against George Mason last season.

UC Irvine will be one of three teams traveling to George Mason for the non-conference event on Jan. 11-12.

The opening day of the event will feature Princeton versus UC Irvine and George Mason versus Erskine. Along with the George Mason and UC Irvine match, Princeton will play Erskine on the final day.