Bouncing back from a short mid-season slump, George Mason High School’s volleyball team re-established its winning rhythm with a sweep over Clarke County and 3-2 gritty win against Rappahannock County High School.
Against Clarke on Tuesday, Mason was clearly the better team. They passed fluidly, dug out the visiting Eagles’ attempts to score and were able to dictate the pace of the match in a more effective manner overall. The only problem was the Mustangs were well aware of this from the opening set. So yes, the team swept Clarke County with relative ease, but didn’t do so with the level of polish that inspires unwavering confidence.
“We have a lot problems finishing, it’s one of the big things we work on in practice so we’re going to try and get better at that,” junior setter Evelyn Duross said. “It might be because we think ‘Oh, we’re so close [to winning the set], this point doesn’t matter,’ but then it starts getting close so we realize we need to start taking care of business again.”
The Mustangs shot out of the gate against Clarke, taking a 16-4 lead without breaking a sweat in the first set. Though a lull in their play allowed the Eagles to shrink the lead to 18-14 in no time. Mason responded by shutting the door on their opponents with a scoring stretch to win the set 25-18, but this trend would pop up in the remaining sets.
A 13-4 lead that eventually became a 19-9 advantage should’ve had Mason cruising to another victory. However, the Mustangs eased up for the remaining points and allowed Clarke County to cut into their momentum until Mason regrouped and finished with a 25-18 set victory. A 10-1 start to the third set devolved into a narrow 16-14 edge midway through. Yet again, the Mustangs retaliated with a 25-17 victory, but the unnecessarily close calls put them at risk of upsetting defeats.
It’s all the more perplexing because when Mason is backed into a corner, they perform at an exceptional level. On the road against Rappahannock County last Thursday, a 25-22 first set victory was followed by 28-26 second set and 25-17 third set loss. Facing defeat entering the fourth set, the Mustangs rallied and closed out with a 25-21 win and capped it off with a 15-12 final set victory to take the match. That’s a great sign for a team that’s struggled to counter their opponent’s hot streaks in the past.
“The finishing that we had a problem with [tonight] wasn’t happening then,” Duross continued. “We actually finished all those sets and showed that we could do it, now we just need to be more consistent in doing it.”
Mason will host Central High School tonight before boarding the bus to Strasburg High School to face off against the Rams next Tuesday, Oct. 17.