by Matt Delaney
In what was hinted at being a near-guaranteed victory by junior outside hitter Kate Karstens, she lived up to expectations as the George Mason High School varsity volleyball team handled the visiting Central High School Falcons in three straight sets (25-15, 25-13, 25-15) on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Though the Mustangs were exuding confidence during pregame warm-ups that didn’t translate to the court once the opening whistle was blown. The sluggish start consisted of some unforced errors by juniors Karstens and fellow senior outside hitter Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong, which reached a climax with a Central kill that tied the set up at 8-8. “I think we started slow,” first year head coach Hillary Trebels said. “[But] we put it together in the middle of that first set and didn’t look back.”
The Mustangs did just that. The team strung together a five-point rally capped off by junior outside hitter Shaun Rodock’s slicing spike that landed just inside Central’s right-side boundary, giving Mason a commanding 13-8 lead.
From then on out the Mustangs controlled the pace of the match with ease. The first set concluded with a barrage of kills from Addo-Ashong, Karstens and Rodock while getting help from some sloppy defensive play by Central, resulting in a 25-15 first set victory. The second set mirrored the first with Mason casually dominating the contest and Central doing its best to help the Mustangs reach the eventual 25-13 result. The third and final set was close in score, though only in passing moments, as the Ladies were attempting to strike a balance between work and play while cruising to a 25-15 victory.
The relaxed nature of the match’s final two sets could pay homage to the Mustangs skill,but it may not set them up for success later on. “It’s definitely hard when you’re playing [less challenging opponents] to stay at your level,” Rodock said. “It’s easy to let them set the pace because they’re sloppy so that’s another thing we’re trying to work on – not playing down to competition.”
Trebels, aware of the trap complacency can be, offered up her remedy to combatting the problem. “Learning how to play our game regardless of what the competition is like is a key skillset to have,” Trebels said. “We see a variety of teams throughout the year and we want to approach the game with the same [mindset] that everyone is equally important.”
For now, the fruits of victory appear to be low-hanging, though it wasn’t without labor for some.
“Earlier this week we lost our sophomore setter Isabella [Ashton] to a sprained ankle so we knew our freshman setter Evelyn [Duross] would have to step up,” Addo-Ashong said.
“I think she did a really [great]job [especially] being thrown into it with only one day of practice.
Both Addo-Ashong and Rodock also cited personal preparations in their techniques before the game as precursors to the day’s victory.
A week ago Mason was victorious over Warren County High School with a final score of three sets to one.
The Mustangs claimed a decisive first set victory of 25-15, but the Wildcats responded by claiming the second set in gritty fashion with a 28-26 end result.
The Mustangs recuperated and seized control of the match in the third and fourth sets, winning by scores of 25-19 and 25-20, respectively. “I was really pleased with our match against Warren,” Trebels said. “Our passing was great, which allowed us to run all our hitters and Warren’s a good team so it’s not like we beat up on someone; we had actual competition.”
Outstanding stats included twenty digs by Rodock, twenty-three assists by Ashton, and twenty kills by Addo-Ashong; a new school record.
In a season that started with consecutive losses in straight sets to Riverside and Luray, Mason has been on a four-game win streak since, also topping William Monroe 3-2 and Pope John Paul the Great Catholic 3-0.
The Mustangs play Strasburg High School in an away match on Thursday, Sept. 24.