John Powell, Asst. Sports Editor

George Mason University:

The volleyball team has made a strong showing this year so far, coming back from a dismal season.
Finishing their non-conference schedule, the Patriots went 11-4 before opening up their conference schedule. Mason took two of three matches at the West Virginia Invitational, before dropping the finale to the West Virginia Mountaineers. Mason won eight consecutive sets before dropping the last three to the Mountaineers.

The win surge has come on the back of a staff writer and defensive specialist.

Junior setter Fernanda Bartels earned the Co-Defensive Player of the Week award. This is the first weekly award of her career and the second Patriots’ award of the season. She was second on the team in digs and blocks in the West Virginia Invitational. The Brazilian recorded 36 digs, 11 blocks and 101 assists in the tournament. Bartels leads the CAA and is second in assists per set.

Another defensive star is Kelsey Bohman who earned the Co-Defensive Player of the Week award two weeks before her teammate.

The Patriots have tallied the most non-conference wins since their 1996 season and hoped to ride on the back of this recent success as they began conference play against the Delaware Blue Hens.

The Patriots visited the Blue Hens and Towson Tigers before opening a two-game homestand against the VCU Rams and William & Mary Tribe.

Virginia Commonwealth University:

The Rams (10-5) play the Patriots in the fourth of a five-game road trip Friday night before wrapping up the trip against the James Madison Dukes on Saturday.

Junior outside hitter and middle blocker Mariel Frey leads the team in kills with 147 on the year, averaging 2.67 per set. Frey has appeared in all 65 possible matches and is a strong player on the front line.

Junior setter Lenka Melicharkova leads the team in serving aces, recording 20 this season. She led the team with 585 assists in 2008. Melicharkova is also tied with Frey with 142 digs. Due to her obvious versatility, Melicharkova is a player to look out for in the game.

On defense, Kelsie Clegg leads the team in blocking in every blocking category.

College of William & Mary:

The Tribe (7-6) play the Patriots Saturday afternoon for their third conference game of the year. The Tribe wrapped up their non-conference schedule Sept. 19 with their third consecutive loss. Head Coach Melissa Shelton is in her second year after garnering a 19-9 record in her opening season with the Tribe. Four starters have returned from last year’s team, which ended third in the CAA.

Junior outside hitter Erin Skipper earned all-conference and all-region honors in 2008. Skipper leads the Tribe’s offense in kills, posting 132 on the year.

Senior defensive specialist Lindsay Pflugner dominates on defense. She has attained 188 digs over the year, averaging 4.7 digs per game. She leads the team by more than 70 digs.

Note: Records and statistics retrieved Sept. 23.