In an already difficult season for the College (8-11, 2-5 CAA), the squad was hoping to rebound against two of the top teams in the conference in instate foes George Mason and James Madison.
In spite of its optimism, the College was not able to handle the Patriots Friday night, losing 3-0 to the reigning CAA champions before falling 3-2 to James Madison the following evening.
“We expected to play well this weekend after a good week of practice. We were hoping for at least one win,” Head Coach Melissa Shelton ’91 said. “But that didn’t happen.”
The Tribe kept up with the Patriots in the first set, tying the match at 13-13 midway through the opening stanza. But, George Mason held the lead for the rest of the set, edging the College 25-20.
The Tribe momentarily grabbed the momentum in the match by taking an early 6-2 lead to open the second set. But George Mason, fed by a cluster of Tribe attacking errors, poured on a 16-4 run to bury the College 25-16.
The onslaught continued in the final set as the Patriots sealed the match with a 25-12 victory, accounting for the lowest single-set scoring output for the Tribe all year.
“Against [George] Mason, we did not play well. We were with them for the first 15 points or so and then we caved.” Shelton said.
Looking to shake off the woes from the previous night, the Tribe featured a new starting lineup that found early success against James Madison.
The College sprinted out to a surprising 2-0 lead in the match, taking the first two sets, and held an 8-0 lead in the potential clinching third set.
“We caught [James] Madison off guard with our new lineup,” Shelton said.
But the good news ended there. The Dukes chipped away at the Tribe lead and stole the third set 25-21.
In the fourth set, the two squads battled in a marathon set that culminated in a 30-30 tie. But James Madison’s hitters sank the College with back-to-back kills, taking the set 32-30, and pushing the match to a fifth and decisive set.
In the final set, the College could not even find a lead, falling 15-12 to hand the match to the Dukes.
With the pair of losses, the Tribe sits seventh in the CAA, three games behind the fourth place team. The top four CAA teams qualify for the conference tournament.
“Even if we were to win out and finish 9-5, there is still a chance that we would not make the tournament. So, we’ll either play hard and hope, or play the spoiler,” Shelton said. “We’re going to take the proverbial ‘one match at a time’ attitude towards the rest of our schedule.”