The GW volleyball team was an unfriendly host for its invitational tournament at the Smith Center last weekend, winning all three of its matches in the GW Invitational without losing a single game. Senior captain Sarah Hokom led the Colonials with a combined 21 kills and 38 digs, earning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
Seniors Lauren Dunning and Ruth Lazzari joined Hokom on the all-tournament team but were not without help from the team’s freshmen, who all got a chance to contribute during the winning weekend. The Colonials remain undefeated at 6-0 this season.
GW Head Coach Jojit Coronel said the performance was indicative of both the Colonials’ talent and their depth.
“It took a lot of hard work to get to this point,” he said. “I have a quick eye for spotting the girls who are struggling and I can easily substitute them and see no change in skill level because our team is so deep.”
Friday night’s opening match against Villanova University proved to be the toughest of the tournament for GW. The Wildcats lost the first game by only two points, 32-30, after a timely kill by Lazzari put GW ahead for good.
The second game appeared to be going in Villanova’s favor, with 6-foot-4 Adrian Semaru dominating the net. But Hokom, Dunning and 2002 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year Lindsey Vernand helped GW to rally for a 30-20 win.
The third game showcased GW’s younger talent, namely freshman Kelly Kabbes, who tallied eight kills, two digs and four blocks on the night as the Colonials won the third game, 30-28. Coronel called her performance “fearless” and said he was pleased with the balance of GW’s attack.
“The team played well and I am happy with all my different lineups,” he said. “I don’t mind having three freshmen out there, but my MVP’s are my seniors.”
Indeed, Hokom had 11 kills, 20 digs and five blocks while Dunning had a match-high 34 assists.
The Colonials continued their strong play Saturday with wins over Lafayette College and Coppin State College. Freshmen Kaimana Lee, Juliene McLaughlin and Abigail Greenleaf all saw considerable playing time against Lafayette and did not waste the opportunity, as Lee had 19 assists while McLauglin had nine digs and five kills.
“The younger players are great assets,” Hokom said. “And the key to our success is Dunning’s setting.”
Lazzari led the scoring effort with 11 kills and Hokom aced the Leopards on four of five attempts. The Colonials won in straight games, 30-16, 30-19 and 30-22.
GW cruised to its final win Saturday night against Coppin State, holding the Lady Eagles to a combined 28 points in the match, the lowest GW has allowed since rally scoring began two years ago. All the Colonials chipped in, most notably Dunning, who had 19 assists in limited action.
Dunning said the weekend was a team effort and that all the players are buying into the coaching and believing in the system. She played despite a shoulder injury that forced her to carry around an ice pack during much of her time off the court but said the injury is not serious.
The Colonials play at the Rutgers Invitational next weekend, where they will have a chance to avenge their loss to Rutgers at last year’s GW Invitational.
“The competition will be tougher (at Rutgers),” Coronel said. “But it would be nice to win three straight tournaments.”