By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s varsity volleyball team wasn’t able to defeat the undefeated Madison County High School squad on Tuesday. The Mustangs lost to the Mountaineers, the reigning Bull Run District champs, in straight sets (19-25, 18-25, 12-25).
Head Coach Erik Healey said the Mustangs’ offense was “one-dimensional and became predictable” as the match went on, and thus less effective against a Madison County team that has only lost three sets the entire season.
“Eventually our frustration got the better of us all, myself included,” Healey said.
The Mustangs had 13 total kills against the Mountaineers, nine of which were notched by senior outside hitter Sally Karstens. Senior setter Caiti Hof had 12 assists in the match. Healey said the Mustangs had a “strong defensive game” led by senior libero Dana Sembera with 22 digs and Karstens had 12 digs. Hof and sophomore Mary Catherine Donovan both had 8 digs.
But the Mustangs didn’t block effectively enough to sustain the defensive effort, according to Healey.
“Against a hard hitting team like Madison we need to at least get touches on the blocks to slow the hits down for our defense,” Healey said.
The match was important for the Mustangs, who are now in third place in the Bull Run District with a 5-3 record behind Madison County and William Monroe High School (7-1).
“We knew we needed to win this game to have a decent shot at winning the district,” Healey said. “I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, which only added to the frustration.”
On Monday, the Mustangs looked like they were headed to a similar fate against Clarke County High School after losing the first set 20-25. But they won the next three sets to comeback and beat the Eagles (20-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-22).
According to members of the team, Healey told the team after the first set that they shouldn’t be losing to the Eagles, who were 2-5 in district play going into the match. The Mustangs came back and went on a 8-2 run to start out the second set.
“We really just cleaned up our game,” Karstens said. “We had to concentrate a lot harder.”
Hof, who had 28 assists against the Eagles, said the team started taking the game more seriously after losing the first set and cut down on errors. The team had 82 errors throughout the match.
Healey said the passing from the back row was phenomenal throughout the match.
“They gave us an opportunity to run some attack, gave our hitters [opportunities]” Healey said.
Sembera led the team in digs with 18 against the Eagles, followed by Karstens with 12 and Donovan with 10. Karstens led the team in kills with 16. Karstens and junior outside hitter Casey Sheehy tied for team lead in aces with five each. Sophomore middle hitter Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong led the team in blocks with four.
The Mustangs play the final game of their three-game week against a Rappahannock County High School tomorrow night at home. The Panthers have a 4-4 district record and a 10-4 overall record and are the team to play as many games as they have at this point in the season. Healey said the team is trying to put the loss to Madison County behind them and focus on the rest of the season.