Nearing the completion of the first third of the season, George Mason High School’s volleyball team fell in straight sets to Arlington County neighbor Washington-Lee High School on Tuesday night.
The Mustangs (2-3) were flat out of the gate and paid for it as the visiting Generals capably handled Mason in each match. The Mustangs improved with each set, but they were still never able to clinch a winner and ushered the game to its completion early into the evening.
“We psyched ourselves out a bit,” Mason head coach Derek Baxter said. “This is the best team we’ve faced so far this season, so that might’ve affected our approach to the game, but we need to address getting in the right frame of mind earlier to avoid this outcome again.”
A service error by Washington-Lee to start the first set was the only time Mason would lead in that round. The Generals went on score four, and then, six consecutive points to rack up a 10-2 advantage during their next serving runs. The Mustangs did mount short three-point offensives to break up Washington-Lee’s dominance, but the Generals answered with two seven-point streaks to wrap up the first set 25-8.
In the second set, Mason was able to limit the amount of damage Washington-Lee did during their time serving, but still couldn’t string together enough points to threaten the visitors. Sophomore setter Olivia Pilson’s opening set ace helped keep the Mustangs’ within arm’s reach of the Generals at 5-3 early on. However, a combination of aces, kills and unforced errors on Mason’s end sustained a five-point run by Washington-Lee to lead 10-3. The Mustangs fought through some more rough periods as the Generals reached a 20-7 margin, until they found a rhythm and scored eight of the set’s final 13 points to fall 25-15.
That groove discovered in the second set carried over to the third, but couldn’t affect the final result. Both teams traded short runs as another Pilson ace put Mason ahead 7-6 soon into the set. Washington-Lee took a 14-11 lead before the Mustangs nine of the next 13 points with contributions from senior outside hitters Riley Ruyak and McKenzie Brady and a slew of sophomores in designated setter Caroline Poley, middle hitter Roza Gal and right-side hitter Megan Boesen.
A 20-18 margin in favor of Mason had them trending up prior to five-point run by the Generals that knocked the wind out of them. The Mustangs scrapped for a few more points, but ultimately fell to Washington-Lee 25-22 to end the match.
Baxter mentioned that Mason was able to clean up the unforced errors that peppered their early sets and made them more competitive as the match wore on, yet reiterated that he wanted the Mustangs to bring their energy levels up from the jump and not ease into that mindset.
The Mustangs won’t play again until Monday, Sept. 17, when they face Robert E. Lee High School.