Mustangs’ 7 Straight Wins Has Team Piping Hot for Playoffs

SHE MAY NOT LIGHT UP THE STAT SHEET, but sophomore libero Caroline Poley has been a key cog in Mason’s machinery. Whether it’s digging out near-kills or providing some relief with her sharp serves, Poley is a major asset to the Mustangs. (Photo: Carol Sly)

Riding the high of a seven-match win streak, George Mason High School’s volleyball team is feeling good following three more sweeps to conclude the regular season.

It’s been a red-hot October for the Mustangs (13-5) as they’ve hunted down their Bull Run District opponents and haven’t lost a game since a road match up with Madison County High School on Oct. 2. Now, after skunking the Mountaineers at home on Oct. 18 along with Clarke County High School at home on Monday and at Rappahannock County High School Tuesday night, Mason stands a chance at claiming its third Bull Run crown in four years. That chance improved when the Mustangs spanked Madison County last week with a 25-12, 25-13 and 25-17 sweep of the former Bull Run champs.

“It was supposed to be a good match, but we destroyed them,” Mason head coach Derek Baxter said, who added that the Mustangs’ tendency to take their foot off the gas while ahead in matches didn’t pop up against the Mountaineers. “We eased up for about three or four points, but outside of that, we just went to town on them the whole time.”

Mason’s second match of the season with Clarke County also demonstrated the team’s lack of interest in toying with opponents.

The opening set was competitive until the Mustangs flipped the switch leading 10-9.

After that, Mason scored 15 of the next 18 points on the back of three aces from sophomore right side hitter Megan Boesen and two from senior outside hitter McKenzie Brady as well as three kills from senior outside hitter Riley Ruyak to take the set 25-12.

The Eagles were a bit more steadfast in their second set but still couldn’t match the Mustangs.

Sophomore libero Caroline Poley’s ace put Mason up 11-5 before a Clarke County came right back to trail within one at 11-10. The Mustangs, again, turned it on, this time with sophomore middle hitter Roza Gal’s four kills mixed in with contributions from Ruyak, Boesen, Poley and setters in senior Evelyn Duross and sophomore Olivia Pilson.

Mason took 14 of the set’s final 20 points to go up 2-0.

A little relaxation did set in during the Mustangs’ final set. Mason bolted off the blocks for an 18-8 lead, but took it easy on crossing the finish line.

Clarke County scored 10 points to the Mustangs’ seven to close the match, but the early cushion for Mason proved vital in the 25-18 clinching set.

Keeping that edge, especially in a postseason where the Mustangs have a historic roadblock in losing three straight regional home openers, is imperative for any future and potential success the team hopes to achieve.

“They’re getting better and better each week in regards to keeping everything together,” Baxter added. “Like tonight [against Clarke County], first set there were some focus issues, second set was some serving that they cleaned up and third was just maintaining intensity, but it’s just constant communication about that. If they keep it up, I’m really excited to see how far they can go.”

Mason won’t play again until the District tournament’s semifinal round at home next Monday, Oct. 29, since the Mustangs earned a first round bye.