Mustangs outrun Wildcats in sweep

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County High School volleyball coach Dorinda Robinson said Tuesday night’s Bull Run District opener against visiting George Mason came down to hustle, and the Wildcats were on the wrong end of it.

The Mustangs survived an erratic start to seize early momentum with a victory in the opening game, then rode that momentum to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-16) sweep over Warren County.

“Our girls just haven’t learned that even though they get down a couple points there’s still a chance to come back,” Robinson said. “We just need to believe in ourselves a little more and keep fighting. As soon as one person gets down it seems like it snowballs.”

Warren County (5-4) missed a prime chance to capture early momentum in the first game but couldn’t take advantage of George Mason’s (3-1) hit-and-miss offensive attack. The Mustangs committed 18 unforced errors – including 11 errant attacks – in game one and yet still managed a 3-point victory.

“We couldn’t capitalize. We missed serves at critical points,” said Robinson, whose team missed 10 serves over the three games. “I hate giving points away, missed serves. Just a lot of little things.”

After committing a pair of early attack errors, the Mustangs raced out to a 7-3 lead in the first game with a 7-1 run that included a trio of kills by Riley Ruyak (match-high 10 kills). The Wildcats then countered with a 10-2 run – powered by kills from Arianna Smoot and Lauren Fox and eight Mason errors – to claim a 13-9 edge before the set turned into a back-and-forth affair.

With the game tied at 21-all, Warren County committed four errors – three attacking and a net violation – to hand George Mason the 25-22 victory and a 1-0 lead.

Warren County mustered only three kills in the opening game, and although they would find more success in the final two sets, the Wildcats suffered from inconsistency in their attack all night while mustering 19 total kills, led by sophomore Kaley Foulks’ nine.

“We just need to be a little more selective where we put (the ball),” Robinson said. “Sometimes we were putting it right back in the middle of the court. Sometimes we were rolling and tipping right back into them.”

George Mason had no such trouble finding holes on the court after the first game, as the Mustangs finished with 35 total kills to go along with 12 aces while committing just nine attacking errors over the final two games.

“I think they got a little more comfortable,” Mustangs coach Hillary Trebels said. “We’ve got a couple girls hurt so we were moving things around. … We have people hitting off setters who usually don’t hit in positions, so maybe it was kind of just getting settled in.”

An ace by Amalia Abrego-Hernandez to start the second game keyed a 9-4 Warren County run to start the set before Mason returned the favor with a 5-0 spurt to take a 10-9 lead.

Six kills by five different Mustangs over a 10-point span midway through the game helped George Mason gain a 20-17 advantage. After trimming that deficit to 21-20 following a Foulks kill and a block by sophomore Britney Carter, the Wildcats committed three costly errors over the final five points to seal the Mustangs’ victory.

George Mason, riding the momentum from a 2-0 lead, buried the Wildcats with runs of 5-0 and 8-0 in the third game and rolled to a 25-16 win and the sweep with 12 kills and six aces in the final frame.

“We just quit,” Robinson said, “and that’s not what I like to see.”

Smoot and fellow senior Mary deVenoge had three kills apiece for Warren County, while Taryn Post and Morgan Coons had seven and six assists, respectively.

Sophomore McKenzie Brady had nine kills for George Mason.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com