Women's volleyball tops VCU in conference opener

Junior Danielle Cook had a strong performance before going down with an injury in the second set, yet the Patriots managed to take down the VCU Rams 3-1 to open CAA competition. (Joey McDermott).

The George Mason women's volleyball team (6-7, 1-0) kicked off conference play Friday night with a 3-1 home win against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams (4-10, 0-1).

The Patriots just returned from the Thunder Invitational in which many of the players felt like they bonded together as team and started playing closer to their true potential. 

“I thought we ended the Thunder Invitational well and I felt like we could carry our confidence into this home opener against VCU," senior Noelle Fanella said.

The Patriots came out strong in the first set, seemingly dominating the Rams. The Patriots controlled the majority of the kills in the set, putting up 17 compared to the 13 that VCU earned.  When it came to errors, Mason outplayed their rivals as well, only putting up 2 compared to the 5 that VCU had.

Mason took the lead early and held it for the length of the set, taking the first set with ease, 25-19.

The second set was much closer, quickly drawing to a score of 10-10.  Mason went on a 7-1 run, but the Rams fought back drawing the score to within 2 points at 19-17.

A few errors later and the Patriots finished the set off with a win, 25-22, taking a two set lead over their conference rivals into the locker room.

VCU came out of the locker room ready to get back into the game.  The Rams took a 6 point lead early, putting the score at 9-3 and they kept their lead for the remainder of the set.

The Patriots drew close bringing the score within one point at 13-12; however VCU went on another run and secured the set victory at a score of 25-18.

The fourth set was a close one, which tied the second set with six tie scores and four lead changes. The score was tied at 14-14 when the Patriots went on a 9-3 run to lead 23-17.  Mason and VCU both recorded errors to tie the score up at 24-18 before Fanella spiked home the victory with a monstrous kill.

Mason put up 59 kills on the night, with Lana Zonjic leading the way with 23. Tori Price also put up phenomenal numbers, nearing a triple-double with 7 kills, 13 TAs and a huge 32 assists.

"I think we played well," Price said. "We had to step up and play positions we were not used to playing, but we came together as a team and did what we needed to do.”

Coach Pat Kendrick referred to the game as a “chess match."

“VCU made great adjustments in the second set and we continued to answer right back," Kendrick said.

Danielle Cook, a major contributor on the team, went down with an injury midway through the second set striking fear into the home crowd.

“We are not sure on how severe the injury is yet," Price said, "but it doesn’t look good."

The Patriots will resume action on Saturday at 5 p.m. at home against another conference rival, William & Mary.

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