GW drops two of three at Sun Devil Challenge

The GW women’s volleyball team lost two of its three matches this weekend at the Phoenix Airport Hilton Sun Devil Challenge in Tempe, Ariz.

Led by all-tournament team selection Tai Bethune and junior Theresa Ridder, the Colonial women flew home with a victory against the University of Connecticut.

Despite a loss to 16th-ranked Loyola Marymount University and an intense five-game loss to host Arizona State University, GW head coach Susie Homan said it was a successful weekend for the Colonial women.

“For an early season weekend tournament, I was very pleased with our performance,” Homan said.

GW is now 2-2 on the season and returns home for a match against West Virginia University Friday.

GW 3, UConn 1

In GW’s only victory at the weekend event, the Colonial women set the tempo early, winning the first two games 15-0, 15-1. Despite a 15-11 loss in the third game of the match, GW rallied to win the fourth game, 15-8.

Ridder had 16 kills for GW, while sophomore Suzana Manole added 12 kills and Bethune chipped in with 1. The team had a combined .189 hitting percentage, its best mark in its three matches. UConn registered 35 attack errors in hitting .134, and recorded 14 service errors.

“The team was nervous last week against UMBC, but settled down by the end of the weekend,” Homan said.

ASU 3, GW 2

GW played its most competitive contest against Arizona State in the second match of the three-match event. After being swept by LMU in the first match and losing the first two games of the second to ASU, 15-10 and 15-10, GW rallied by winning the third and fourth games, 15-13, 15-11.

The Colonial women fell short, 15-10, in the final game. But GW was within one point at 10-9 when things fell apart, Homan said.

“They lost their focus and lost the game,” Homan said. But Homan said she was proud of her team’s effort.

“For a volleyball match to last two hours and 45 minutes, it indicated the type of battle it was,” she said.

The performances by Bethune and Manole helped keep GW in the match. Together they combined for 31 kills (15 and 16, respectively), with Manole hitting .452. Sophomore Jill Levey recorded 30 assists, while Manole contributed 27.

ASU’s Jami Coughlin provided a great individual effort with 24 kills and Amanda Burbridge added 19 for the Sun Devils. ASU hammered GW’s defense with an impressive .360 total attack percentage to win the final game.

LMU 3, GW 0

GW stepped off the plane and was greeted in tough fashion by nationally ranked Loyola Marymount. LMU swept GW in its first match of the weekend, 15-5, 15-12, 15-9.

Bethune led GW with nine kills as the Colonial women struggled on offense, hitting just .067 for the match. LMU’s Sarah McFarland, the tournament’s most valuable player, actually struggled against GW, committing seven attack errors to go along with eight kills. Despite limiting the LMU star’s contribution, playing against the 6-foot-6 McFarland was a bit intimidating, Homan said.

It took LMU just a little more than an hour to sweep GW in handing the team its first loss of the season.

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