Riding the high that came with some history-making to end the regular season, George Mason High School’s volleyball team took care of business in their opening round of the Bull Run District tournament on Monday by defeating Clarke County 3-1.
With each set being a nail-biter, Mason had to throw some water on Clarke County’s hot streaks to keep their Berryville rivals at bay. And what started with the Mustangs down 1-0 after the first set eventually saw the team recover and win three consecutive sets much to their opponents’ chagrin.
“We definitely started slow and seemed a little sluggish throughout, but we’re really proud of how they pulled it out,” head coach Hillary Trebels said. “Some people really brought some energy.”
The theme of the night was no lead could be considered safe, and that started in the first set. Both the Mustangs and the Eagles were trading points with Mason down 11-10, but Clarke County notched seven of the next 11 points to get ahead 18-14. Keeping with the theme, the Mustangs racked up five straight scores themselves to nudge ahead 19-18 and resumed alternating blows. Mason was knocking on the door of a win at 24-22, but three straight errors followed by a Clarke County block and ace gave the visitors a 27-25 opening set win.
A near win put the Mustangs in a chippy mood to start the second set, and it showed when they accrued a 7-2, then 15-8 advantage. But again, the Eagles came storming back and were right on Mason’s heels when they trimmed the lead to one at 21-20. The Mustangs kept their cool though, as senior middle hitter Merriweather Gordon spiked a shot before junior outside hitter McKenzie Brady tacked on two more points to go with senior middle hitter Kait Daniels’ block to win the set 25-23.
By winning the third set Mason would be sitting pretty entering the fourth, and ideally final, frame. Fortunately for them, this was the one match that broke from the night’s theme. Tied at 10-10 early on, the Mustangs began to widen the gap with key plays by younger players such as freshman Roza Gal as well as strongly executed rallies that either scored points outright or put the Eagles in untenable situations. The result was a 25-15 win and a 2-1 edge over Clarke County.
Things returned to normal in the fourth set where the two teams seesawed back and forth with the lead. Mason was up 8-5 right before an Eagle run turned the tables as Clarke County went ahead 10-9. The Mustangs regrouped and compiled a 19-14 advantage, but again, Clarke County sprang to life and tied Mason at 19. It wasn’t until Brady got her chance to serve that the Mustangs regained control, as her bullets put Mason ahead 22-19 before senior middle hitter Laura Whitaker’s back-to-back aces capped off a 25-21 win.
Mason’s been closing out their games – and the season – strong since some early September hiccups.
Though they still have some misconceptions to shake off if they really want to make noise.
“We had a coaches meeting for the Bull Run District [on Sunday] and people kinda joked and said we’ll be up on them 10-3 and then they’ll come back, so finishing is a priority,” Trebels continued.
The Mustangs have a chance to buck that reputation starting with a home 2A regional tournament game this Saturday against a to-be-announced opponent.