A look into the oncoming season with head coach Aylene Ilkson
BY JALEN STUBBS STAFF WRITER
Mason’s women’s volleyball squad is victorious with a home record of 2-0 so far this season. On Saturday, Aug. 28, the Patriots beat American University in the first, third and fourth quarters with a final score of 3-1 — followed by an even more exceptional win for the Patriots on Aug. 29 against Howard University, finishing with a final score of 3-0.
Freshman Olyvia Kennedy displayed an outstanding performance against AU with a match high of 19 kills and a 43.6 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Katie Parmalee trails Kennedy with 13 kills and a 42.9 hitting percentage.
“It’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster,” head coach Aylene Ilkson stated. “It’s about figuring out who you can count on and who’s playing really well — but also in this preseason, we’re constantly working and building to get everything set for A-10 play that starts in three weeks.”
Ilkson says she is planning on giving more of her players opportunities on the floor in preseason to see who is willing to step up the most and earn the starting positions. This approach and more are key to putting together a team that will stand out in the A-10 conference this year.
“I think people are underestimating us. I think our team last season did this and in previous seasons, they loved getting up for a good contest, they love getting up for a match,” Ilkson explained. The match against the AU Eagles marked the smallest margin of victory that day.
Strategy will also be key for the Patriots to be outstanding this year in the A-10. According to Ilkson, this team has the IQ and reputation of being versatile during matches.
Ilkson claims that the process to determine who is most reliable will take time. She also mentions how the consistency of scoring will vary between the players — it is unclear who will be the one to step up to carry the team and who will fall short.
In her fifth year as the head coach, Ilkson has gained more wisdom than when she began in 2017. This season marks the first time the roster is full of her recruits.
“I think the difference is that this year I have all of my recruits. Every one of them came here under the expectation of playing for me. I think there is a shift of what the expectation is, and I think that the level since I got here has grown so much,” Ilkson said.
“I want players to leave the program having really enjoyed their four years,” Ilkson said. “I want them to walk away and feel like they were part of something bigger than themselves, and part of a great experience.”