Mustangs Learn Loads at Weekend Tourney, Sweep Central to Stay Hot

Celebrating after a point at the net are a collection of Mustang players against Mount Vernon on Sept. 12. The win marked a turning point in the Mustangs season as it was the start of their current four-game win streak. (Photo: Carol Sly)

A weekend of action saw the George Mason High School volleyball team square up against four local teams and manage a 1-3 record as a part of day-long tournament at T.C. Williams High School. Mason followed up the tournament with a 3-0 win over Bull Run District rival Central High School on Tuesday.

Record-wise, it wasn’t the ideal showing for Mason at the tournament, but the results have no bearing on the team’s overall record so the losses shouldn’t be taken to heart. In reality, Saturday’s competition provided head coach Hillary Trebels and the Mustangs an opportunity to fine tune aspects of their game against teams they wouldn’t typically play against.

“We showed we could play with anyone, no matter how big the school is,” Trebels said. “The girls came together and were scrappy on defense and determined.”

An opening match versus St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School had Mason off to a good start by winning both games. The Mustangs paced the Saints by mixing in different players to vary fatigue levels as well as attack SSSAS with diverse looks. It worked to their advantage as junior outside hitter McKenzie Brady, typically an attacker, helped with her passing while freshman utility player Roza Gal covered the net while junior setter Shea Ruyak split libero duties with senior Hannah Trauberman.

Things slowed down for the Mustangs against Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology and Washington-Lee High School in their second and third matches.

Mason had a chip on its shoulder from a 3-0 loss to Jefferson three weeks back and wanted to atone for their previous performance. Initially, they came out serves-blazing and had a seven-point lead over the Colonials. But Jefferson clawed their way back in by forced long rallies that wore the Mustangs down, leading to missed hits and communication errors that lost them the match.

Wobbly legs got the best of Mason when facing Washington-Lee as well. A multi-point burst to start the match succumbed to low energy levels and another tough loss in the third match of the tournament.

Regrouping for the fourth and final match, the Mustangs held strong against tournament host T.C. Brady and junior outside hitter Riley Ruyak kept the offense on track while junior right side hitter Savannah Williams and senior middle hitters Kait Daniels and Laura Whitaker kept the Titans’ offense in check. Senior setter Bella Ashton and freshman setter Olivia Pilson also helped facilitate the offense, but T.C.’s firepower was too much to handle and Mason eventually lost this match as well.

Mason didn’t waste any time feeling sorry for themselves, though. On the road against rival Central, the Mustangs took care of the Falcons in a hurry, seizing a 3-0 win, winning each game 25-11, 25-15 and 25-21. Ruyak was again solid playing the libero and put the setters in prime position for scoring opportunities to outside and middle hitters, especially Whitaker and Daniels.

According the Trebels, the Falcons were preserving rallies well while getting a boost from their fans, but the Mustangs stayed focused. The win marked Mason’s fourth straight, all of which have been three-set sweeps.

Strasburg High School will come to Falls Church on Thursday before Mason heads to Arlington for an official game against Washington-Lee Monday, Oct. 2, and a home game against Madison County High School on Oct. 3.