GW still in the A-10 hunt, beats UMass and loses to URI

With the season coming to a close and the conference championships just around the corner, the GW women’s volleyball team is taking every victory it can get.

This weekend the Colonial women (19-12, 9-9 Atlantic 10) earned a five-game win over Massachusetts Sunday, but lost to Rhode Island Saturday.

“What we had hoped this weekend was to get ahead. We did our job on Sunday and we didn’t do our job on Saturday,” head coach Susie Homan said. “But we’re still in the hunt and that’s where we want to be.”

GW 3, UMass 2

The Colonial women and the Minutewomen went into Sunday’s game with identical conference records. The game proved to be a close contest, but GW came through with a 6-15, 15-5, 12-15, 15-5 and 15-13 victory.

“We just felt as though we had to go out and play as hard as we possibly could and as aggressively as we could on every point inside and out,” Homan said.

GW is more solid in the middle than UMass (13-16, 8-10 A-10) and wanted to focus on strong serving and passing. The Colonial women also wanted to pick up the pace and play the game at a faster tempo than the Minutewomen were used to, Homan said.

In game four, GW went on a phenomenal 10-0 run, creating momentum for game five.

“We were controlling the ball really well and that was the fastest that we had played all day,” Homan said.

Under the pressure of rally scoring, the Colonial women remained aggressive, unlike earlier matches where they had been more tentative.

“We really want to stay focused on the game and stay mentally strong,” Julie Jahnke said. “We know we can do it physically, but we always let down mentally.”

Homan said she thought Crystal Akens had one of the best matches of her career from start to finish, while Jahnke and Theresa Ridder came up with some big plays. Akens finished with 25 kills and 30 digs for the game.

URI 3, GW 0

In the game of volleyball, as in any sport, it is crucial to fight hard to the very end. In game one against the Rams (22-6, 15-2 A-10), the Colonial women came out playing aggressively and led 14-10. Despite needing only one more point for the game, GW let up, committed several errors and lost 16-14.

“We didn’t play with the same confidence we did to get up to that point,” Homan said. “It doesn’t matter if you play well to 14, you have to play well to 15, and we didn’t do it.”

The game one loss dampened the team’s spirits, and it went on to lose the last two games 15-6 and 15-10.

“We just weren’t playing together as a team,” Jahnke said. “We weren’t in it, and we were all lackadaisical,”

GW’s attack percentage was only .159, and the team struggled defensively in blocks and digs.

“I thought as a team we quit, and that was very disappointing,” Homan said. “If you’re going to quit after one game, it’s not possible to win the match, and there’s no excuse for that, ever,” Homan said.

The team had come off what Homan said she felt was the best week of practice since August.

“Things were really coming together. We played aggressively and with a great deal of confidence. It was disappointing that we didn’t bring that type of behavior and performance onto the court,” Homan said. “That’s what it’s about. You have to do it on gameday.”

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