After losing senior stars Sabrina Whitney and Katie Mitchell (Columbia University) to graduation, as well as current senior leader Annie Zweighaft to an arm and back injury, it figures as though this year will be a rebuilding one for the George Mason High School varsity volleyball team.
However, despite their setbacks, the team continues to fight and improve, as the extremely young squad lends hope for the very near future. In two matches against two AA Dulles District members Freedom and Briar Woods High School, the Mustangs took on some extremely experienced volleyball players and were downed in three sets by both squads.
In their match against Briar Woods on September 5, the Mustangs fell quickly, 19-25, 16-25, 16-25. Despite the loss, head coach Rwaida Alshagra felt as though numerous bright spots emerged on the team, the improvement of whom will hopefully aid future victories.
Junior Elisa Aronica held up the defense, while seniors Kate Root and Bailey Walton surprised the bigger Falcons with several kills and solid defense. Freshman Alexis Dahl, filling in for Zweighaft, is “improving rapidly” according to Alshagra, as she had four aces in the match.
Against an extremely well-rounded Freedom squad, the Mustangs hung tough, but ended up relinquishing the match in three sets, 21-25, 20-25, 15-25. Serving and defense continued to be the strong points for the Mason team, led by senior Anna Lathrop and sophomore Ashley Dahl, who combined to contribute 90% of serves over the net.
Lathrop also racked up 35 assetts — sets to a kill — and, commented Alshagra, “always got to the ball no matter where it was on the court.”
Sophomore Gwen Edwards led the offense, disrupting Freedom’s front line with several key blocks on the night.
Once Zweighaft returns from injury, the much improved Mustang squad will be at full strength, as they begin Bull Run District play, hoping to make a run at the title. The road will not be easy, however, as rival Rappahannock High School was the state runner-up last season.
This Saturday the team will take place in the Raider Rumble at cross-town J.E.B. Stuart High School, after which they hone their skills one last time each against Freedom and Briar Woods. Mason will then open up district play with a home match against Manassas Park September 25 at 7:30.