Colonial women prepare for opening week of matches

If the preseason is any indicator of how the GW women’s volleyball team will fare in its first match this week, the Colonial women should start the season well, head coach Susan Homan said.

“I think we’ve had a great preseason, probably the best preseason in three years,” Homan said. “The athletes came in in very good physical condition. We’ve had a great preseason in that they’ve worked hard, we’ve been relatively injury-free and it’s been very competitive.”

The GW women’s volleyball team begins its 1998 season Tuesday when it faces the University of Maryland-Baltimore County at the Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. While Homan admits she knows little about her team’s first opponent, she said she is confident her squad will put on a good performance in its first home match of the season.

“It’s pretty tough to get a lot of scouting material, because Sept. 1 is everybody’s first match,” Homan said. “We’re concerned most with our performance, and I think as long as we perform as well as we can perform we will have a very successful evening.”

A great deal of Homan’s enthusiasm for the 1998 season comes from a very successful spring season, during which the NCAA allows all teams to play on four dates. GW got the opportunity to play nearly every team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Homan said, and faced a good mix of highly competitive teams.

“Our goal is to pick up where we left off at the end of April,” Homan said. “We had so many breakthroughs this spring that helped our growth and maturity. Playing that higher caliber competition throughout the spring gave the younger players so much confidence.”

The team will find out how much it has matured when it travels to the Phoenix Airport Hilton Challenge at Arizona State University Sept. 4-5. At the event, GW will face ASU, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Connecticut, all of which should provide stiff challenges for the Colonial women, Homan said.

“We’ll only have one match under our belts,” Homan said. “It’s simply going to be a test of where we are early in the season against some excellent competition. It’s going to show us a lot of our strengths and our weaknesses.”

One of GW’s strengths as it enters the season should be its experience, as nine players return from last year’s squad and only one newcomer, junior Gabriela Mojska, joins the team. Homan believes that all 10 players on the roster will make a contribution to the team this season.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “Everyone’s practicing and competing for their role on the team, and everyone definitely will see playing time.”

GW also has factors working against it, Homan said, especially when it travels to Tempe, Ariz. for its matches Friday and Saturday.

“The teams that haven’t started school as early as we have will have an additional week and a half of preseason,” Homan said. “Teams across the country are still going two-a-day this week and we’re down to one-a-day. That’s going to make it even more difficult for us in Arizona.”

The first two weeks of GW’s schedule are dedicated to playing tough national and regional opponents. Homan said she hopes GW’s rigorous non-conference schedule will help GW when the field is named for the NCAA Tournament, which recently expanded to 64 teams for women’s volleyball.

“Realistically, the A-10 has its best chance to get more than one team in the tournament,” Homan said. “With our schedule, when it comes to selection time, we should have more comparisons than most teams.”

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