by Matthew Hochberg
For the first time since the George Mason High School girls’ volleyball team began their season in August, they lost two consecutive games coming within the past week and a half. As one can imagine, that is not an ideal way to head into postseason play.
Head coach Hillary Trebels, however, tried to view those two losses in the best way she possibly could.
“Obviously, that’s not ideal. But it was kind of a good wake-up call for us,” she said.
After falling to Clarke County High School on the road 3-1 last Tuesday, Rappahannock County spoiled the Mustangs’ Senior Night on Thursday, Oct. 27 and became the first team to defeat Mason twice this season in their 3-1 victory.
Yet, heading into the conference semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 1, the No. 1 seed welcomed Strasburg High School to Falls Church with eyes on reaching the finals and solidifying a spot in regionals.
It proved that the wake-up call Trebels referred to must have worked.
The Mustangs swept the Rams for the third time this season and advanced to the conference championship, which will be played Thursday, Nov. 3 against Clarke County High School.
“We moved really well on defense and covered players who were hitting well. Everyone seemed to be on the same page,” Trebels said.
Sophomore Annie Castillo set the tone with nine consecutive points off serves, while fellow sophomore Riley Ruyak hit well and senior hitter Kate Karstens – who, along with senior Shaun Rodock, was just named to the All-Bull Run District Volleyball first-team – had 5 kills in the third and final game alone.
With an impressive regular season overall and an encouraging start in the postseason, both Trebels and her players have high expectations for how long this Mustangs team can advance.
“At the beginning, we set different types of goals… One of them was to make it farther than we did last season (when Mason won their conference tournament but lost in the first regional game). I told the girls a while ago, I blocked off the weekends for regionals and states in my schedule,” she said.