For all the preseason hype surrounding Mount Olive, it lived up to the billing in its season opener.
Mount Olive won its first match against an EIVA opponent in six years as it rallied to beat George Mason 23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-23, 15-12 on Saturday in Mount Olive, North Carolina.
The Trojans after winning the ConfCarolinas regular season title last season were voted the favorites to win the ConfCarolinas championship this year in the conference’s preseason poll. The team also returned the majority of its starters, including outside attacker Tobi Azeez who was the ConfCarolinas player to be named a Preseason All-American.
Azeez finished the season opener with a match-high 19 kills and added two aces.
The junior had three of his kills in the decisive fifth game as the Trojans offense committed zero errors and hit a match-best .643.
Mount Olive out-hit George Mason .259 to .246 and had three players with double-digit kills. Along with Azeez, middle attacker Eric Visgitis had 10 kills and zero errors on .556 attack percentage, while outside attacker Dominic Hagerty added 13 kills.
Hagerty also midway through the second game had an ace and was serving during an 8-0 run that helped the Trojans win the game and tie the match.
Both Visgitis and setter Merritt Oliver had a match-high seven blocks. Mount Olive finished the non-conference match with 15 blocks – 10 more blocks than George Mason.
Outside attacker Omar Hoyos led George Mason with both 18 kills on a .389 attack percentage and 12 digs. In addition, opposite Jack Bolz contributed 15 kills in the loss.
This was the first loss for the Patriots against a ConfCarolinas team in their program history. George Mason entered this match 26-0 all-time versus the ConfCarolinas, including a sweep against Barton in its season opener on Friday.