Tourney prepares volleyball for conference

The GW volleyball team won two of three matches at the Pittsburgh Classic this weekend, its last tournament before Atlantic 10 play begins. The Colonials finished second behind host University of Pittsburgh, dropping the last match to the Panthers in the final on Saturday. GW beat University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Charleston Southern University in earlier rounds.

Head coach Jojit Coronel said his team’s tough non-conference schedule was a good “springboard” for the Colonials (8-5) going into the A-10 season. The Colonials kick off conference play against last year’s A-10 champion Xavier (8-4) Friday and continue against last year’s first-place finisher Dayton (11-3) Saturday.

“We’ve now gone through the learning experience,” Coronel said. “Now it is time for the nitty-gritty.”

Freshman Jessica Vesey said the tournament was “a good warm-up” for A-10 play.

“We’re a young team and a lot of us are inexperienced,” she added. “So getting in a lot of games has been important for us.”

Coronel said the weekend boosted his team’s confidence.

“We played really well against Pittsburgh, who is definitely a taller team,” Coronel said, referring to Pittsburgh’s nine players taller than six feet compared to GW’s five. “It showed us, regardless of size, we are pretty darn good.”

He said his team needs to do two things heading into conference play.

“We need to be a little more consistent in scoring points and stopping points in terms of runs between 10 and 20,” he said.

Lindsey Vernand’s 10-kill, 12-dig performance was not enough Saturday, as the Colonials lost to the Panthers (10-4) in three games, 22-30, 22-30 and 21-30. Vernand was named to the All-Tournament Team, along with teammate Lauren Dunning, who had 28 assists against Pittsburgh.

Coronel said the weekend was an important confidence-booster for Vernand.

“It was important to find another outside hitter to balance the attack of Sarah Hokom and Ruth Lazzari and setting of Lauren Dunning,” he said. “(Vernand) is now a go-to person.”

Despite the play of Vernand, Vesey said the Colonials were plagued by inconsistency against the Panthers.

“We had some spurts of playing well and other times when we needed to get our heads together,” she said.

Earlier in the day, GW knocked off Charleston Southern (3-12) in three games, 30-22, 30-18 and 30-24. Vernand recorded her first ever double-double in the match with 13 kills and 11 digs, while Sarah Hokom matched those numbers for her second double-double of the tournament. Ruth Lazzari also posted a double-double in the match, with 10 kills and 13 digs. Dunning had a game-high 41 assists.

The Colonials beat UMBC (7-6) Friday for the second time this year, winning in three games, 30-17, 30-28 and 30-25. GW also beat the Retrievers 3-1 in their second match of the season Aug. 31.

Hokom had a match-high 19 kills to go along with 13 digs and Lazzari led all players with 19 digs in the match.

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