The GW volleyball team opened Atlantic 10 conference play with an impressive 3-0 victory over Duquesne Saturday night at the Smith Center, improving the Colonials’ overall record to 12-2.
Freshman Juliene McLaughlin led the GW charge in a breakout game for the rookie. Her statistics were not overly impressive, with 14 kills and a .333 kill percentage, but her on-court presence was overwhelming.
“(She is an) outstanding player,” GW head coach Jojit Coronel said. “She’s a great athlete and she’s consistent in practice. I think she is going to be a great player.”
Senior Sarah Hokom also had a big day for the Colonials, dominating the Dukes (5-7) in Game One with her high-speed kills. Freshman Kaimana Lee came up with an important save to help the Colonials win the opener, 30-22.
The second game was a total team effort from GW. Even though Duquesne’s Erin Trageser started the game with a huge kill, senior co-captain Lauren Dunning helped calm the team and Duquesne unraveled with several consecutive errors as GW won 30-20.
The Dukes came out strong after intermission but quickly began to show fatigue. Sophomore Abigail Hatter had several good blocks and senior Ruth Lazzari had some perfectly placed kills. But the game was won on the shoulders of Hokom and McLaughlin, as Hokom made a head-over-heels dig and McLaughlin had four kills in an eight-point stretch to close out the match, 30-26.
“It takes time to adjust – to your teammates, the system, the coach, the speed and even a new country,” McLaughlin, an Ontario, Canada native, said. “Coming off the bench is hard, especially in a cold gym, but you get used to it and there is no pressure.”
McLaughlin’s performance came at a good time for GW. After setting a school record by starting the season 10-0, the volleyball team lost two of three games at the Gamecock Invitational last weekend.
“This was a huge win, because last weekend we didn’t play GW volleyball,” Coronel said. “And during the A-10 schedule we are being hunted by the other schools.”
GW’s upcoming matches are against Fordham (7-8) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Rhode Island (5-10) on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both games will be played at the Smith Center.