FINAL: Mason 0, Saint Louis 3 (PDF Box Score)
Niu – 15 kills; Emily Konchan – 35 assists; Catie Espinoza – 19 digs
RICHMOND, Va. –
- Saint Louis swept Mason on Friday afternoon to advance to the Atlantic 10 Semifinals.
- Mason concludes the 2018 season with an overall record of 10-15 and conference record of 8-6.
- Freshman ShaLi Niu finished with a team-high 15 kills for a .281 hitting percentage.
The George Mason women's volleyball team's historic season came to a close on Friday afternoon after falling to Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals. The Billikens advance to the A-10 Semifinals to take on top-seeded VCU.
Mason (10-15, 8-6) ends the 2018 season with its best overall record since 2015. Making their first trip to the A-10 Championship in program history, the Patriots finish with a program-best A-10 record of 8-6 to finish fourth in the league.
"Today was a tough loss for us," said head coach Aylene Ilkson
. "On a whole this season, we had a nice run, going 8-6 in the conference. Catie will be a huge loss for us next season but we return almost all of our starting lineup so we're looking forward to the future."
In senior Catie Espinoza's
final match as a Patriot, the libero collected 19 digs to finish with 1,513 career digs – Mason's new all-time career digs record. Espinoza also holds the record for single-match digs (46) and single-season digs (483). Her senior single-season dig mark (452) and junior single-season dig mark (442) rank second and third in Mason history.
It was battle to start the match. Mason and Saint Louis exchanged points early to find the first set tied 10 all. A kill by Peyton Ehmke
gave Mason a 19-18 lead. Two-straight points by the Patriots put them within one point of an opening set win. But four-straight points by SLU lifted them to a first set victory by a score of 26-24.
In the second set, SLU jumped out to an early 10-7 lead. Mason battle back to find the set tied 15 all after a kill by Niu. Back-to-back blocks by Mason extended its lead to two, 17-15, to force a SLU timeout. Out of the break, the Billikens tied it back up to later take a 24-21 lead. A kill by Ehmke and an attacking error on SLU pulled Mason within one, 24-23. Ultimately an attacking error on the Patriots gave SLU the final point in the set, 25-23.
In the final set, freshman Siron Hardy
made her debut in the match, contributing three kills for the Patriots. Saint Louis went on a three-point scoring run to claim a 13-10 lead. Another run by the Billikens gave them a 21-17 advantage late in the set. Mason battled back to cut the Billikens' lead to two for a score of 24-22. However, Saint Louis managed to hold on to win the set, 25-22.
- Serving played a major role in the match. The Patriots tabbed five service aces with four service errors while SLU collected six service aces with 10 service errors.
- SLU hit .265 in the match compared to Mason's .193. The Patriots had its lowest hitting percentage of .029 in the second set.
- The Patriots return its top three offensive performers next season; Bailey Williams (2.68 k/s), Niu (2.54 k/s), and Ehmke (2.25 k/s).