Brian T. Chan, Sports Editor

Supporting breast cancer awareness, the George Mason University women’s volleyball team sported their pink uniforms. Even with the different look, Mason (19-7, 8-3) carried out the match in a familiar fashion they had throughout this season, defeating the Georgia State Panthers in four sets on Saturday night.

After dominating the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks on Friday, Mason recorded nine attack errors in the first set. Both teams struggled as they combined for 16 errors in the first set alone. Despite the back-and-forth errors, Mason battled hand-in-hand with the Panthers, but the Panthers took the first set with a narrow 25-23 win.

Mason had a stronger showing in the second set, hitting .424 in the set. The team closed out the set with a 25-18 win and entered the third set with more confidence.

“We started off kind of slow, and Georgia State really came to play tonight, so we had to re-focus ourselves, get back into it, and stick together as a team,” said freshman libero Koala Matsuoka, who had a match-leading 18 digs in Friday’s match.

Mason jumped to a 9-1 lead early in the third set. Eleven of Mason’s first 18 points in the set came on serves from junior setter Fernanda Bartels. Mason led by as much as nine points, holding an 18-9 lead and eventually took the third set with a 25-20 win.

Despite dominating the third set, Mason had trouble getting their serves across the net. At one point, Mason had three consecutive service errors.

“We had to fight back. It was hard to come back from the four errors,” said sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bohman.

Junior middle blocker and opposite hitter Holly Goode racked up seven kills and posted a .778 attack percentage in the third set.

With Mason leading 8-3 early in the fourth set, the Panthers went on a 5-1 run and again rallied from a 13-9 deficit to close it to 15-14. Mason scored the next three points to provide some breathing room and eventually wrapped the match up with a 25-20 victory.

Goode and senior outside hitter Rebecca Walter had double-doubles. Along with the 18 kills, Goode had 12 digs. Walter added 11 kills and 11 digs.

Bohman, the CAA leader with 133 blocks, recorded seven blocks and had an errorless performance, posting 14 kills and an outstanding .700 attack percentage.

The Panthers came in as a spoiler despite entering the match with a solid 16-9 record. Their 3-6 conference record and 0-4 road record did not seem to make them a favorite, but Mason knew that the Panthers would be tough and could give Mason the boot.

The victory came at the right time with teams fighting for the four spots in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. By picking up the two wins this past weekend, Mason was able to strengthen their chances of reaching the tournament.

Mason entered Saturday night in fourth place and trailed the top-ranked Delaware Blue Hens by just one game. Mason moved past the William & Mary Tribe for third place after the Tribe fell to the Blue Hens on Saturday.
“It would be fantastic [to host the tournament]. It has been our goal since day one, and [the RAC] is a brand new facility, so it would be awesome to host the CAAs in our first year here,” said Bohman.

Whether Mason was wearing the customized pink uniforms or their usual white home uniforms, the team continued to exhibit strong play. Opposing teams have now been made aware of Mason as a contender.