GW survives Dunning’s absence

The GW volleyball team swept George Mason Tuesday night at the Smith Center for its second victory over the Patriots this season. Despite playing without senior co-captain Lauren Dunning, the Colonials won easily compared to their five-game victory over GMU in the season-opening Patriot Invitational.

Freshman Kaimana Lee replaced Dunning to make the first start of her career for GW (17-4, 5-2 Atlantic 10). The rookie notched a career high in sets with 46, while adding 12 digs to record her first double-double.

“Kaimana played very well and did a good job stepping in for Dunning,” GW head coach Jojit Coronel said. “The injury came at a good time because we have two consecutive non-conference games. But we are going to need both Dunning and Kaimana for the rest of the season because of the tough Atlantic 10 schedule.”

Dunning said she injured her wrist against La Salle Saturday but plans on playing in the team’s next conference game this Saturday against Duquesne. Tuesday marked the first missed game of her career.

George Mason (9-9) had injury problems of its own heading into Tuesday night’s match. The Patriots dressed only eight players, and a George Mason athletic official said all five players in street clothes were injured.

Despite their depleted squad, the Patriots came out strong in Game One and GW started sloppy, prompting Coronel to call a timeout as they trailed by five points. With freshmen Juliene McLaughlin and Kelly Kabbes joining Lee in the starting lineup, Coronel had to settle down his young team. He did, and after the timeout GW promptly rallied to tie the score at 16. The Colonials then finished off the Patriots with a 14-4 run to win the opener, 30-20.

Asked if his players have an ‘on-off’ switch, Coronel said, “Yeah, they really do. Because they try to find a rhythm and once they find it their play improves.”

In Game Two, the Colonials crushed the short bench of the Patriots. Led by McLaughlin’s career-high 18 kills, GW went ahead early and won easily, 30-20.

The Patriots fought back in Game Three, playing with renewed passion as the score remained close. GW fought off several game points as the match extended past 30, but senior co-captain Sarah Hokom made several key plays late as the Colonials finished off the Patriots with a 35-33 win.

GW now begins a six-game road stretch that will keep them away from the Smith Center until Nov. 11. The trip begins this weekend with games against Robert Morris University (15-10) Friday and Duquesne (9-13, 3-4 A-10) Saturday in Pittsburgh.

“It’s going to be tough to play on the road,” Coronel said. “But we still have to do it.”

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