For the George Mason High School varsity volleyball team, a downswing came with an upswing.
After back-to-back losses against Strasburg and Madison County high schools on Sept. 20 and 22, both at 1-3, the girls came back and won two against Pope John Paul and Rappahannock County high schools on Sept. 26 and 27, at 3-1 and 3-0 respectively.
“The back-to-back losses were hard on the girls,” said Coach Erik Healey, who added that hitting mistakes and insufficient blocks against the Madison hitters led to their recent loss.
They’ll get a second shot at Madison next month, however, and Healey says the team will work to improve its blocking in the meantime. He said the loss was especially tough for the girls because the last game went into extra points 29-27.
“The next time we play Madison at our house it will end with a different result,” Healey said.
A win at Pope John Paul was no easy task considering that many of the players – including three-year starting setter Maddie Johnson, a junior, weren’t playing.
“There were many situations that were unfamiliar to the girls,” Healey said. But with 20 assists and two aces, back-up setter Jade Taylor, a junior, met the challenge. Senior middle hitter Natalie Farrell led the Mustang offense with 11 kills, followed by sophomore middle hitter Sally Karstens with six.
Without a single game lost, the team beat Rappahannock (25-20, 25-17, 25-13). Karstens led the kill count with seven, followed by senior outside hitter Rachel Bell with six. Farrell and junior outside hitter Johanna Roche both brought in five.
“We seemed to get better every single game,” Healey said. “The girls started to move together and communicate well, giving us an opportunity to be creative with our attacks.”
Tuesday’s win against Rappahannock brought the team to 3-2 in the Bull Run District and 8-4 overall.
“Our team can play point for point with anyone in our district,” Healey said. “We showed Strasburg (last year’s district and regional champion) and Madison (second in district last year) that we can not only compete with them, but have the ability to beat them. If we cut down on some of our errors and tighten up on defense, we can pull out victories the next time we meet both these teams. Our goal as a team is district champs and that’s what we’re going after. We have the talent, now we need to fight for it.”
The team is back in action Thursday at home against Manassas Park High School, and next week will play at Clarke County High School Oct. 4 and at William Monroe High School Oct. 6. All games start at 7 p.m.