By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s varsity volleyball team lost 3-1 (19-25, 21-25, 26-24, 20-25) to Madison County High School in the semifinals of the Conference 35 tournament last Thursday.
“I was very proud of the way our girls played,” said head coach Erik Healey. “They fought for every point and we gave Madison a run for their money. Unfortunately, we just came up a little short.”
According to Healey, the Mustangs were up late in each of the first three sets, but let the Mountaineers come back to win the first two sets.
“We just couldn’t close games out,” Healey said. “It’s as if our team thought they needed to do something different in the final points to win instead of just continuing to play our style of game.”
Healey said that he and his team were disappointed with the outcome of the game, but weren’t disappointed in the way they played. He said the Mustangs making errors late in sets was a big factor contributing to the loss.
“Our blockers really shut down a lot of their attacks, our defense was spectacular, we just couldn’t finish the sets the way we needed to,” Healey said.
Senior outside hitter Sally Karstens led the Mustangs in kills with 14 against the Mountaineers, followed by freshman outside hitter Kate Karstens with six and sophomore middle hitter Vicky-Marie Addo-Ashong with five. Addo-Ashong led the team in blocks with five, followed by Karstens and freshman middle hitter Maddie Cherry with three each.
Senior setter Caiti Hof led the team in assists with 22. Senior libero Dana Sembera led the team in digs with 23, followed by Sally Karstens with 12, senior defensive specialist Peggy Brozi with seven and Hof with six.
The Mountaineers (24-3) moved on to the region 2A East playoffs, which started Tuesday, despite a 0-3 loss to Luray High School in the Conference 35 championship last Saturday. The Mountaineers lost 0-3 to Robert E. Lee High School of Staunton in the first round of the region playoffs. The Mustangs’ (12-9) season ended because of the loss.
“This season was a roller coaster,” Healey said. “We have plenty of talent and skill at each position, but we never reached our potential.”
He said dealing with illness and injuries and trying to get the younger and older players to mesh were obstacles to the team’s success this season.
“However, we ended with one of the best all-around games I’ve seen this team play,” Healey said. “Our younger girls didn’t look like new varsity players anymore, which is exciting for the future of our program.”
Six seniors, some who have played in the program for the past five years, will not be returning to the Mustangs’ team because they are graduating. But five underclassmen – especially players such as Addo-Ashong, Cherry, and sophomore defensive specialist Mary Catherine Donovan – will most likely return with experience gained as being key players on the Mustangs’ team this season.
“I’m excited to see what the team will look like in the future,” Healey said. “But for now we focus on getting better in the off-season after some much needed rest of course.”