An unusual incident involving fans and a key substitution by the coaching staff helped the GW volleyball team achieve a narrow victory Saturday over the Rhode Island Rams at the Smith Center. The win marked the Colonials’ fourth straight win after they swept Fordham’s Rams at home Friday, 3-0.
The weekend’s victories put GW (14-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) atop the A-10 standings with undefeated teams like Temple and Dayton.
“Right now, we are right where we want to be,” GW head coach Jojit Coronel said of the team’s latest victories. “We are meeting our expectations and that takes hard work.”
GW fell behind early Saturday, losing the first two games by scores of 30-20 and 30-28. In the early stages of Game Three, a loud group of GW fans moved to the Rhode Island side of the court and started heckling Rams players. Rhode Island Head Coach Bob Schneck complained to officials about the crowd and a warning was issued to the group of fans. But by then, the Rams’ momentum had been halted.
Later in the match, Coronel made a sudden player switch, substituting freshman Kaimana Lee for senior Lauren Dunning. The move helped keep GW close as the game went back and forth. With the score knotted at 28, freshman Juliene McLaughlin and junior Katie Downey tallied consecutive kills to give GW the 30-28 win.
The fourth game also remained close until a sudden six-point spurt led the Colonials to a 30-24 win. GW then completed the comeback by crushing the Rams (7-11, 2-1 A-10) in Game Five, 15-2.
Senior Sarah Hokom turned in another strong performance Saturday, setting a season high for the Colonials with 23 kills in the two hour and 25 minute match.
“The seniors are certainly the leaders of the team,” Coronel said. “The younger talent gives us depth, and we need good followers to ensure our strength.”
Hokom also led the team’s victory against Fordham on Friday, with 19 kills, 10 digs and a .350 hitting percentage. The Colonials swept Fordham (7-10, 0-2 A-10), winning all three games easily, 30-22, 30-23, and 30-16. As a team, the Colonials hit .277 for the match.
McLaughlin and senior Ruth Lazzari also had standout performances with 12 and eight kills, respectively.
“As the season progresses, the competition gets harder,” Coronel said. “We need to grind it out and keep up a fighting mentality if we want to stay in the competition.”
The Colonials face Dayton at the Smith Center Friday at 7 p.m. in what should be their hardest match yet.
“Dayton is where is gets tough,” Coronel said. “If we had lost to Rhode Island or Fordham, that would have been an unexpected setback for us.”