Mason V-Ball Starts District Stretch Strong

SENIORS Riley Ruyak (left) and McKenzie Brady were a part of a team effort that saw Mason deny Central High School a single set in their 3-0 match win. (Photo: Carol Sly)

It was another victorious week for George Mason High School’s volleyball team as they kicked off Bull Run District play with a three-set sweep over Central High School.

Tuesday night’s game against the Falcons was a welcoming sign for the Mustangs (5-3), who performed more than admirably.

As team, Mason only conceded nine total points to Central that were either kills or aces — the remainder of the Falcons’ points were a product of the Mustangs’ own miscues and unforced errors.

That’s a promising sign for a Mason team heading into the meat of their schedule where they’ll face more talented opponents, such as this Thursday’s road game against Strasburg High School for their first of two contests versus the Rams this season.

“I kind of expected the sweep against [Central],” Mason head coach Derek Baxter said. “Who we’re playing next, that to me is going to be a better indication of where we are district-wise. It’s always nice to start it off the way we did, but Strasburg has a pretty good record so against them I’ll see where we stand.”

Mason struggled out of the gate in the opening set.

Service errors and an inability to place their hits kept helped dismantle a 8-4 Mustang lead into a 12-10 Central advantage roughly midway through.

The Mustangs were down 15-14 until senior designated setter Evelyn Duross knuckleballed a shot for a kill to even the score and segued into senior outside hitter McKenzie Brady’s game-clinching service run.

The ten-point sprint consisted of three aces from Brady, two kills from sophomore middle hitter Roza Gal and a kill from sophomore right side hitter Megan Boesen with Central errors helping carry Mason to a 25-16 first set victory.

Throughout the second set, the Mustangs continued to flex their muscles.

Gal notched a kill and a block early, with Boesen and sophomore setter Olivia Pilson killing and acing their chances, respectively, to build up another substantial Mason lead at 9-3.

A war of attrition followed, with the Mustangs saving themselves from the same costly errors that the Falcons committed. As a result, Mason was able to enlarge their advantage to 21-9. Four more Central errors sealed the set for the Mustangs at 25-15.

Mason was too comfortable in the third set, and couldn’t put away the Central with much ease.

They allowed the Falcons to hang around and keep the score even at 14-14 after a service error from the Mustangs tied things up.

That’s when Baxter stepped in to steady the ship with a quick timeout.

“Having our coach tell us to focus on the court and stay in the right mindset helped out,” Brady said. “We were relaxing, so we needed that reminder to get back into a competitive mode.”

Just like that, the Mustangs were back on track.

Mason went on to score 11 of the next 15 points to smother any feelings of a comeback for the visiting Falcons.

Now, as Baxter alluded to, it’s on to Strasburg tonight for the one of the earliest tests of the season with district seeding on the line.