Sports

Mustangs Rebound from Sweep Last Week to Handle Lee, 3-1

STRONG DEFENSIVE PLAY from Mason’s back line, which includes sophomore designated setter Caroline Poley (left) and senior outside hitter Riley Ruyak helped the Mustangs stymie Robert E. Lee High School in their road match on Monday. (Photo: Carol Sly)

George Mason High School’s volleyball team bounced back from its sweep last week for a 3-1 take down over Class 5 opponent Robert E. Lee High School Monday night.

Equilibrium has been re-established for the Mustangs (4-3). Against Lee, Mason’s starters crisply positioned passes and effectively converted their scoring chances, mostly at will. The Mustangs’ middle hitters were also able to present a challenge for the Lancers when Lee attempted to notch points and Mason’s back line kept volleys alive with their deep digs. Overall, the team performed the way they expect to from the get-go, which shows their gradual development as more games are scratched off the schedule.

“I was proud to see how focused the team started in the match to take commanding leads in the first two sets which was an improvement from earlier in our season,” Mason head coach Derek Baxter said.

A strong start to the match crystallized Mason’s winning intent. In the first set, they gained an early lead and never relinquished it thanks to solid serving, led by seniors outside hitter McKenzie Brady and setter Evelyn Duross, who both tallied seven total aces to pace the win. Big early leads were a hallmark of last year’s team, which then-head coach Hillary Trebels mentioned became a punchline to other Bull Run District coaches at district meetings when the Mustangs would later flame out in those same sets.

But the effort on Monday quashed any concerns of a comeback. A 25-12 first set win made way for a near-identical 25-11 second set win and had Mason knocking on the door of a sweep.

However, Baxter decided to give reserves a chance to play, as well as switch up some of the starters positioning to tinker with the line-up. Another strong start put Mason out in front during the third set, but Lee’s continuity took hold as they capably defeated the Mustangs 25-18.

Baxter did an about-face and put his starting line up back in for the fourth set. The starters came out cold, but eventually heated up as Lee struggled to match the Mustangs’ level of execution and suffered a disproportionate amount of unforced errors. It allowed Mason to claim a somewhat tense 25-20 set win and clinch the match.

Some notable performers were sophomore middle hitter Roza Gal’s four blocks and sophomore setter Olivia Pilson’s seven digs. Brady and Gal led the team with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. All signs are pointing up at the moment for the beginning of district play next week.

“The team worked at the end to close out the match and we are working together to capitalize on that momentum in our upcoming matches and district play,” Baxter added.

Next up, Mason will host Central High School on Sept. 25.