With only a handful of regular season matches remaining for William and Mary, the Tribe squared off against George Mason and James Madison at Kaplan Arena over the weekend. In contention for one of four coveted CAA tournament spots, the pair of games marked a crucial opportunity for the College to strengthen its playoff positioning.
The result was a split, as the College fell to GMU 3-1 Friday night before downing JMU 3-0 Saturday. The victory kept the Tribe in position to qualify for the CAA Tournament with one more needed win to clinch a berth for the third year in a row.
Against George Mason Friday night, the Tribe fell behind 14-7 early in the first set due to four consecutive attacking errors and a number of service errors. The College battled back with nine kills from sophomore hitter Lindsay Kresch — who finished with 16 kills and 13 digs — to eventually tie the set at 21-21 and secure a set point at 25-24. But the Tribe could not finish, handing the first set to the Patriots 28-26.
Helped by eight kills from junior hitter Erin Skipper, the Tribe took the second set 25-23.
But after intermission, the Tribe could not find its form. Despite taking a 13-12 lead midway into the third set, the Tribe fell victim to a 13-3 Patriot run, dropping the third set 25-16.
In the fourth set, the Tribe was unable to reverse the momentum, never leading on its way to dropping the set 25-15 and the match 3-1.
“We just didn’t have any energy,” Skipper said following the loss. “We looked scared, and we have to change that.”
Junior setter Cassie Crumal totaled 39 assists and 10 digs for the Tribe. Senior libero Lindsey Pflugner added 21 digs, and junior middle Ginny Bray recorded a match-high 6 blocks.
Saturday, on senior night, the four members of the class of 2010 were honored before the game – the last for them at the Kaplan Arena. Hitters Bryana Carey and Lauren Powell, blocker Katie McCarney and Pflugner were determined not to let their final home match end in a defeat.
The Tribe came out strong, looking revitalized from the previous night’s loss. Behind four consecutive points from McCarney, the College cruised to a dominant 25-12 first set win.
The second set looked much like the first for the Tribe, who was able to take advantage of JMU mistakes en route to a 25-13 win.
In the third set, the College encountered some resistance from the trailing Dukes, who did not lead in the match until the final set. But the energized Tribe finished off the Dukes 25-21 after a kill from Bray capped a match-point rally, giving the match to the College 3-0.
“There was a much different feel in the locker room,” Head Coach Melissa Shelton said, comparing Saturday’s win to the George Mason match from the night before. “We were more relaxed, and all of our nervousness was out.”
“Everyone was taking care of what needed to be done,” she said.
The Tribe will hit the road to face UNC-Wilmington and Georgia State this weekend attempting to lock up a CAA tournament bid.