With a 3-1 win over Duquesne at the A.J. Palumbo Center Saturday night, it seems the GW volleyball team has overcome a six-game winless streak it rode at the start of the season. The team built on its first conference win against La Salle last week with a strong showing against the Dukes to take a share of first place.
Although GW is not as strong as Xavier or Temple, the Colonials expected some strong competition from the Dukes (6-3, 0-1 A-10) going into the match. Head Coach Jojit Coronel said last week Duquesne was the type of team GW would be in three years. But the Dukes did not put up the fight GW expected.
“We always expect to win, but we expected better play out of them than we saw,” senior Shannon Farley said.
In their longest match of the season – the four games spanned more than two hours – the Colonials outlasted Duquesne with sophomore leadership. Duquesne has never beaten GW in volleyball.
“We’re improving every game, and we’re still not at the top of our game,” Farley said. “We play better in practice than we do in the games. Knowing that we can still get better is a good feeling.”
GW (2-6, 2-0 A-10) won the first two games, 32-30 and 30-24, respectively. Duquesne fought back in the third game, and the Colonials lost it 26-30. It marks the first game GW has lost in conference play this season after blanking La Salle.
“The win has given everyone confidence for the rest of the season,” Farley said. “We are a possibility to really contend.”
After losing the third game, the Colonials had a substantial lead in game four and needed only one more point for the win. That’s when Duquesne went on a six-point run to tie it at 29 before GW finally put the Dukes away 35-33.
“We didn’t give up,” Farley said. “We put away the ball when we needed to.”
The Colonial’s strong sophomore class stood out again. Returning starter sophomore Ruth Lazzari led the way with a double-double. She had a team-high 18 kills and 16 digs and a .239 attack percentage.
The duo of outside hitters Sarah Hokom and Laura Harrison racked up 17 kills each. Hokom had three service aces and three blocks, and her career-high 20 digs gave her a double-double. Harrison also picked up a double-double with 17 digs.
Duquesne had picked up six early-season wins against Saint Francis University, Northwestern University and University of North Carolina Greensboro, among others. The match against the Colonials marked their first conference game. The Dukes travel to Philadelphia next week to take on a powerful Temple squad.
While the Colonials started their conference play relatively easily, facing LaSalle, Duquesne and Fordham, GW will have to continue improving if the team wants to stay in contention, Farley said.
GW will face Temple in its next conference game. Next to Xavier, Temple will be the biggest A-10 test for the Colonials. GW has not beaten Temple in the past three years, including last year when the Colonials won the A-10 Championship.
Before Temple, the Colonials will go for their third-straight win on Tuesday, in a non-conference game at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.