Patriots Kick Off Inaugural A-10 Season with Women’s Volleyball

Posted: September 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

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By Justin Lafreniere

Women's Volleyball vs Delaware

Mason Athletics photo

The George Mason University women’s volleyball squad, fresh off of hosting the Patriot Invitational, competing in the College Park Invitational at the University of Maryland and the Spartan Spiketacular at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and traveling to La Salle University in Pennsylvania and Fordham University in the Bronx, will take on the Saint Louis University Billikens in the Patriots’ first home match in  the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The game will be held at the Recreation and Athletic Complex (RAC) on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m., during Alumni Weekend. All visiting Patriots are encouraged to attend. See the website for ticket information. The game can be viewed live via the GoMason website.

And since it’s the Game of the Week, students will receive free subs from Jersey Mike’s (while supplies last) and gift cards for free and discounted subs at Jersey Mike’s in downtown Fairfax. Mason Recreation and Mason’s Office of Housing and Residence Life have partnered to give out 1,000 rally towels to fans as they enter the RAC to celebrate Mason’s first home A-10 contest.

men's Volleyball vs Georgetown

Mason Athletics photo

This inaugural year as an A-10 member is important for the volleyball team, which features a relatively young cast of players big on talent. Head coach Pat Kendrick has led the team for 29 years, and has a history of developing her players into award winners, including seven Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Rookie of the Year players. The A-10 conference brings new opponents and new challenges.

Kendrick says the team “is ready for conference play.”

Seniors Tori Price and Laura Spencer are eager to play in the conference. Price notes that there’s no reputation for Mason in the conference yet, and because of a middling season last year, she feels the team might be getting overlooked. “It’s important to show them what Mason volleyball is,” Price says.

As for the team’s development, “The early matches allow me to see where the team needs improvement and what we are doing well,” Kendrick says. “I’m glad we have been able to get a number of younger players on the court. The goal is to get a bit better each outing, and I think the team is working hard to make good things happen.

The A-10 Conference has put on a strong showing in the NCAA title tournament the past several years, with the University of Dayton winning the past five A-10 titles and having a unanimous preseason ranking as the favorite to win the A-10. In that same poll, George Mason placed seventh. As the newcomers to the division, Mason wants to put on a strong showing and upset the polls, although Kendrick doesn’t put much stock in them. “It’s too early to tell where we fall in the mix since there are a number of teams we have never faced,” she says.

Spencer thinks that the shift is a good thing. Aside from playing teams like Dayton, closer to her home in the Midwest, she also sees it as a fresh start during her senior year. “We’re starting a new tradition, coming into the A-10,” she says.

Since its inception in 1975, the A-10 has grown significantly and played a large part in the realignments of college athletics divisions in the past few years. It currently features 13 universities:

  • George Mason University
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Dayton
  • Fordham University
  • George Washington University
  • La Salle University
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Richmond
  • St. Bonaventure University
  • Saint Joseph’s University
  • Saint Louis University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

In addition, Davidson College will join the conference in 2014. Despite the shifts, there are some familiar faces for the Patriots. VCU was a member of the CAA with George Mason. And with George Washington being down I-66 and across the beltway, even without a reputation in the A-10, Spencer noted that there would still be “old rivals.”

The A-10 has 21 sports for competition. Mason fields teams in all nine of the men’s sports and all except field hockey from the 12 women’s sports. The Mason teams competing in the A-10 are the following:

  • Men’s Baseball
  • Men’s Basketball
  • Men’s Cross Country
  • Men’s Golf
  • Men’s Soccer
  • Men’s Swimming and Diving
  • Men’s Tennis
  • Men’s Indoor Track and Field
  • Men’s Outdoor Track and Field
  • Women’s Cross Country
  • Women’s Lacrosse
  • Women’s Rowing
  • Women’s Soccer
  • Women’s Softball
  • Women’s Swimming and Diving
  • Women’s Tennis
  • Women’s Indoor Track and Field
  • Women’s Outdoor Track and Field
  • Women’s Volleyball
  • Women’s Basketball

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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