It’s do or die as GW battles for playoff berth

In what arguably can be called one of the more disappointing fall seasons ever for GW sports, the GW women’s volleyball team stands one win away from a top-four regular season finish and a trip to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Philadelphia Nov 26 and 27.

The Colonial women will travel to Rhode Island and Massachusetts this weekend and need to win at least one of their final two matches to ensure a tournament berth. GW enters the weekend in fourth place with a 10-6 A-10 record.

We need to make sure we finish in the top four, head coach Yvette Moorehead said. We’re taking it one at a time.

GW will face off with the Lady Rams Friday night, a team the Colonial women have not defeated on the road since the team’s 1995 A-10 Championship season. The Lady Rams stand in third place with an 11-5 record. Moorehead’s team swept Rhode Island Oct. 16 at the Smith Center led by senior Gabriela Mojska, who pounded a match-high 18 kills.

Gabi and Renee (Arnold) definitely need to play well, Moorehead said.

The Colonial women are 3-2 in their last five matches, playing without injured junior setter Jill Levey. Levey, who broke the fibula in her left foot Oct. 29 at La Salle, is recovering well, and Moorehead said her return to the lineup this weekend is possible.

GW’s final match of the season will come Saturday night against sixth-place Massachusetts (9-7 A-10), a team that the Colonial women lost a heartbreaking five-game match against Oct. 15. The Colonial women have not lost a road contest against UMass in the last four seasons.

In both contests against Rhode Island and Massachusetts at the Smith Center this season, GW pounded more kills and committed fewer errors than opponents. The Colonial women also out-blocked the teams a combined 24.5-17.5, showing domination at the net.

Moorehead said her team seemed uptight in practice earlier in the week, especially Monday, coming off a flat, three-game loss to second-place Xavier on GW’s senior night Saturday. The coach said the team has to relax and crack some jokes as the game day approaches. Moorehead said she has confidence her team will come through.

We’re starting to get the focus for this weekend, Moorehead said. The team is more accountable for their actions this year.

As assistant coach under Susie Homan, Moorehead watched the Colonial women lose their final two matches of the season last year. The two tough five-game losses at Duquesne and Virginia Tech placed GW fifth with a 12-8 conference record. Moorehead said she talked with Homan after GW’s loss to Xavier and said the former coach wished her good luck.

She told me to have some fun, Moorehead said.

The key reason GW controlled its playoff destiny this season has been strong team chemistry, an element truly needed with Levey’s injury. Mojska and Arnold combine for an average of over seven kills a game, while Jahnke and junior Tracee Brown combine for almost three blocks a game.

We’ve got people stepping up in different areas, Moorehead said.

The Colonial women also received tremendous support from their home fans this season, an emotional lift that propelled GW to a 7-3 home record this season.

The players have really enjoyed the home support, Moorehead said.

Sweeping both matches this weekend would be sweet for the Colonial women’s volleyball team. In a season where GW split matches in five different weekends, a sixth weekend split wouldn’t be that bad since it would lead to an A-10 tourney berth.

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