By Fernanda Bartels, Staff Writer

Being part of the George Mason University men’s volleyball team is being part of a big family. Strong bonds are created on and off the court, and team members consider each other brothers.

With freshman outside hitter Patrick Maloney joining the roster this season, the description “brother” becomes literal. Patrick is senior libero and outside hitter Luke Maloney’s younger brother. Patrick started playing volleyball under Luke’s influence.

“I started playing my freshman year of high school,” said Patrick. “Basically, Luke kept pestering me about it over, over and over. He told me I should at least try it for a couple of days, and then I went out and tried it.”

Even though Luke was a senior in high school when Patrick was a freshman, the Maloney brothers never had the chance to play volleyball together before.

“We didn’t [play together in high school],” said Luke. “He was a freshman and had never played before, and my team was pretty good. If he started one year earlier, he probably would have started for us. It’s kind of a bummer, but [playing with Patrick in college] makes up for it.”

As a senior and key player on the team, Luke represents experience and carries the past of the men’s volleyball program. Patrick and his classmates look to build up a future of victories for the team.

After finishing his high school career on a high note, Luke joined the Patriots in 2007, making an immediate impact on the team. In 2008, he was named Second-Team EIVA All-East. Last season, Luke was ranked 21st in the nation in aces per set.

“I think Patrick’s class and lower are going to be the guys that bring back the EIVA championship for us,” said Luke. “They are going to be the ones that get to go to the NCAAs, and I’m super excited to watch it. I am kind of jealous, because I wish I could be there too. But, you know, you have to look at it like I paid my dues and my dues in turn paid for what they are going to do.”

Hard work and brotherhood are the foundations of the men’s volleyball team.

“I definitely like the camaraderie that the team has,” said Patrick. “Whenever I see someone on campus, it’s always a big smile. Also, I was really surprised by the level that is upheld in practice on a daily basis. Everyone is always hustling. If you don’t touch a ball, you’ll get yelled at.”

As Patrick continues to adapt to the team and build his collegiate career, Luke looks back on his Mason years to advise Patrick.

“Relish it when you can,” Luke said to Patrick. “Take a step back and really evaluate what you have; don’t take anything for granted. I think it is important, when you are standing in Ohio State’s gym, to just take a look at the court, and take a look at your jersey and say, ‘Wow. Not many people get this opportunity.’”