Holding a tight 20–19 advantage in the first set against George Mason Friday, junior setter Lauren LaBeck teed up a ball for freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Drelling. She secured the kill that started a 6–0 run and gave GW the early 1–0 set lead.
But the Colonials (1-9, 0-7 A-10) couldn’t keep up the momentum, dropping the remaining three sets to the Patriots (5-10, 5-5 A-10) for a 1–4 defeat. The squad has faced an unprecedented losing streak this season, dropping 10 of its 11 games, including all seven Atlantic 10 games.
“We just haven’t handled the stress of competition well this season,” head coach Sarah Bernson said. “It’s just been trying for us all year. In practice, we’ll display some really strong execution, and just the stress of matches this year for us has caused us not to succeed in the match as well as we have in the practice gym.”
The Colonials swung for a .054 attack percentage, tallying 36 kills but were ultimately unable to match the Patriots’ .178 attack percentage. Graduate student opposite Ashley Waggle nabbed a team-leading nine kills and swung at a .120 clip on the night. Drelling followed closely behind with seven kills and a .150 attack percentage.
After going back-and-forth to open the first set, George Mason held a 9–6 advantage. But a 9–0 run gave GW a firm lead as the set wore on. The Patriots battled back to shoot ahead by one point after scraping together a 7–0 tilt. Drelling’s kill spurred the Colonials’ comeback, and GW claimed the first set.
The game got away from the Colonials in the second set – the team wracked up 10 errors and swung at a -.067 attack percentage. The squad committed 29 errors – 11 more than the Patriots committed – on the day.
Two straight points propelled GW within five, but the Colonials wouldn’t be able to score again, conceding five consecutive points, three of which were attack errors. George Mason evened the score at one set apiece.
“It’s about resetting and working together as a team and collaborating, working on teamwork and communicating,” senior middle blocker Callie Fauntleroy said. “That was one of the areas that we struggle a little bit.”
In the following two sets, the Patriots smothered the Colonials, holding them to just 13 and 11 points, respectively. Freshman outside hitter Katelyn Clarke notched five of her seven kills during the third set as George Mason dominated the final two sets, swinging at .387 and .196 clips, respectively.
The Colonials were unable to outmatch the Patriots, holding 12 serving errors and landing 47 digs as the team settled into a more defensive style for the remainder of the match.
The Colonials faced a 15-day break prior to their first serve Friday after encountering “COVID-19 concerns.”
“COVID concerns can be a number of things, including, but not limited to a positive test, contact tracing from a close contact or an abundance of caution,” athletic department spokesperson Kevin Burke said in an email.
As a result, five games — including three conference bouts with Fordham, La Salle and Rhode Island — were canceled.
“Being isolated in a small room it’s hard,” Fauntleroy said. “It gets at the mind. It gets on the body, and we didn’t have a lot of time to turn around. But the fact that we were able to play hard, and we got the first set off them, it really showed that had that extra time, we could have, we could have snatched two extra sets.”
The Colonials close out their season with the loss. But Bernson said the younger players on the squad gained game-time experience that will help the team come back stronger next season.
“We have the capability, and the potential would be better than we were this year, but results are the results, so we have to own them,” Bernson said. “The good thing is that our returners all participate in matches and see some playing in games and see where they can work on. And that was a big thing for us this year because we lost five starters.”