The wins keep coming for George Mason High School’s volleyball team as they downed Central High School 3-1 before travelling to Strasburg to gut out a five set, 3-2 win on the road.
Last Thursday’s match against Central captured both the frustration and inspiration that comes with watching the Mustangs compete. A dominant first set made way for a lax second set and, ultimately, an unnecessary amount of drama against an overmatched team. Even with the dip in intensity, Mason recovered and handled the Falcons with relative ease. It’s just continuing to perform at their level, instead of their opponents’, that proves to be the challenge.
“Some of the [players] weren’t ready to play. We’re working on some responsibility stuff,” Mason head coach Hillary Trebels, who benched some starters for the opening set after they failed to bring their game jerseys, said. “But we won the first set and then took them for granted in the second and had to wake back up.”
Starters be damned as the few key replacements helped the Mustangs seal an opening set victory. Though fairly even at one point with Mason leading 8-6, the Mustangs pulled away going up 18-10 and then eventually drawing a 25-15 win by forcing Central to commit mental errors. Mason held the skill advantage heading into the second set, but eased up on the intensity which rocked their footing for middle part of the contest.
A 7-2 early lead followed by a 12-7 midpoint edge kept the Mustangs comfortably ahead. The Falcons, however, were intent on knocking Mason off their recliners and hounded the Mustangs for the latter half of the match. Central got close down 15-14 and and then 18-17, but after Mason gained some breathing room up 20-17, the Falcons scored eight of the next 11 points to snatch a 25-23 win from the Mustangs.
A small Central fan base riled up their team as the Falcons led 7-3 soon into the third set and appeared prime for an upset. But Mason recentered themselves and tallied 13 of the next 17 points to flip Central on their head with a 16-11 margin. The Falcons narrowed it to 17-16, though again the Mustangs dusted the visitors by spiking and acing them into submission with a 25-19 result.
By the final match Mason had broken Central’s spirit. A 6-6 draw early was seemed like a facade after the Mustangs racked up 19 points to the Falcons’ four to close the match with 25-10 victory. It’s that closing ability that keeps taking sets off for Mason, but does seem to come to the fore when they need it most.
“We slightly improve but we still have a long way to go with closing,” junior outside hitter Riley Ruyak said. “We always get to the last point, but then we get in a rut on serving so we really gotta get back to the basics: one pass, one set, one hit.”
Mason showed their closing ability against Strasburg on Tuesday. The Mustangs rose to the challenge when it mattered most and defeated the Rams in five sets. Mason’s won both of their five set matches this season, showing they can close, it just takes dire circumstances to bring it out.
Next up Mason will travel to Madison County High School today (Thursday) before returning home next Tuesday, Oct. 24, for against Rappahannock County High School.