Lazzari leads volleyball to second-place finish

The GW women’s volleyball team earned a confidence-boosting second-place finish at the George Washington Invitational Saturday. The Colonials remained undefeated until a 3-1 loss in the final game against Rutgers University. Junior Ruth Lazzari was named the tournament’s most valuable player, racking up a combined 48 kills in four games.

Rutgers (5-2) and GW (5-2) each beat Morgan State University (0-7), Liberty University (2-4) and Radford University (2-5) to reach Saturday’s final.

Junior co-captain Lauren Dunning, named to the all-tournament team along with co-captain Sarah Hokom, said the loss did not come in vain, as it provided a good learning experience for her young team.

Last year’s squad, with one senior, no juniors and five new players, were 0-6 at this time last season.

While 70 percent of this year’s squad is still composed of underclassmen, the team’s experience grows with each loss, Dunning said.

“(The final) was a learning loss, and it made us expect more out of ourselves,” she said. “We get better every time we go out on the court.”

GW head coach Jojit Coronel has said he will use these tournaments for early feedback about how his offense will fare against competition in the Atlantic 10.

Dunning said the team is poised to take its underdog stigma to heart and upset conference rivals such as Temple and Xavier.

Lazzari agreed.

“We have the power, skill and depth in the lineup to defeat anyone and good things are to come,” she said.

The Colonials were edged out in the title game by a Rutgers squad powered by a rare 20-20 (21 kills, 29 digs) by outside hitter Shayla Bush. As a team, the Scarlet Knights out-hit the Colonials .233 to .092, with 66 kills to GW’s 50. The loss snapped the Colonials’ five-game winning streak.

The Colonials quickly drew first blood in the opening game of the match, edging the Scarlet Knights 32-30 behind a team-high 15 kills by Hokom.

But Rutgers stormed back to sweep the remaining matches, 30-21, 30-26, and 30-24, taking the match and tournament victories, despite Lazzari’s strong presence on the net. She posted double-digit figures in kills and digs.

GW reached the title game by sweeping Morgan State earlier that day in three straight matches. Freshman Shannon Parks had an errorless hitting performance with no errors and 10 kills in 19 swings. She finished with a .526 attack percentage. Lazzari remained consistent with 11 kills and 17 digs.

In GW’s victory over Liberty Friday night, Lazzari had a team-high 14 kills as her team cruised to a 3-1 victory.

In the opening match against Radford, the Colonials cruised to a 3-0 victory. Hokom led the way with 18 kills. Dunning also demonstrated her all-tournament qualities by assisting on 29 of GW’s 38 kills.

The team will gain experience at the Boise State Invitational Sept. 13 and at the Pittsburgh Classic Sept. 20 before they begin conference play.

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