Volleyball struggles on West Coast

California was not kind to the GW volleyball team this weekend. The Colonials went winless in four matches and won just four total games while playing at the University of California at Irvine.

After its season-opening loss to No. 24 (USA Today) Utah, GW dropped all three games of the Nike/Holiday Inn Sunset Classic.

“I think we can play better, but we did have to face tough west coast teams,” sophomore Juliene McLaughlin said. “We don’t want to peak right off the bat.”

Saturday night, the Colonials lost 3-0 to UC Irvine after falling 3-1 to Northeastern University that afternoon. GW is off to a 0-4 start this season, quite a difference from 2003, when the Colonials set a program record with 10 straight wins to start the year.

UC Irvine thoroughly dominated the Colonials Saturday night, taking the three games 30-21, 30-26 and 30-15. The Anteaters had a high kill percentage (.398) in the win. Junior Lindsey Vernand was the only GW player with double-digit kills (12).

Saturday afternoon, GW played a close match but still lost to Northeastern. After dropping the first two games 30-22 and 30-21, the Colonials won the third game 30-28 before losing the clincher 30-24.

Friday, the Colonials played well but could not beat the College of William and Mary (1-3) in the tournament opener. GW jumped out to a 2-1 game lead against the Tribe, but the Colonials could not close out the match. In game four, GW lost 30-27, and in the decisive game five, the Colonials lost 19-17.

McLaughlin set a new career high for kills in the match (34), while also contributing 19 digs. Sophomore setter Kaimana Lee had 55 assists while junior libero Jessica Vesey had 28 digs.

In the Colonials’ season opener, a non-tournament match against Utah, GW showed life but could not overcome its nationally ranked opponent. After losing the first game 30-19, GW rallied in game two, winning 30-24. However, the powerful Utes regained their swagger quickly, winning the next two games 30-19 and 30-25 to take the match.

Even though the Colonials suffered four losses, one bright spot was the play of McLaughlin. In the three tournament games, she combined for 59 kills and was the only GW player to be named to the all-tournament team.

“I think she played really good,” head coach Jojit Coronel said. “Offensively she is playing outstanding now. Hopefully she can just keep this up and add a few tools to her repertoire.”

Co-captains Katie Downey and Molly Law each saw limited action in the four weekend losses.

“They both know that their playing time is going to be limited depending on how they perform because we have a lot of great athletes,” Coronel said. “Every recruiting class just gets better and better.”

The Colonials will try to get their season back on track next weekend at the Delaware Invitational, where they will face University of New Mexico, University of New York at Albany and host University of Delaware.

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