The 2003 season was the last time the GW volleyball team compiled a season worth referencing. The Colonials ended that season 21-11, finishing third in the Atlantic 10, losing in the first round of the tournament to eventual champion Dayton. GW started off the season 10-0, capturing the George Mason Invitational and beating out-of-conference teams such as Delaware and Duke on the road.
The Colonials’ season-opening streak that season was the last time the squad was able to string together more than three straight victories. Going into Sunday’s contest against A-10 newcomer Charlotte, GW had won three straight matches, topping Rhode Island, Fordham and Georgetown on the road. But in their first contest in program history with the 49ers, GW broke trend and lost in 3-2 (23-30, 30-21, 30-25, 24-30, 10-15) in front of an announced crowd of 114.
The five-game match was the Colonials’ (10-13, 3-6 A-10) third of the season, only being able to convert on one.
Despite the marathon loss, head coach Jojit Coronel said he was not disappointed with the defeat.
“I think we played pretty well but we just missed opportunities,” Coronel said. “We have got to execute a little better, and I think it could’ve gone either way. When it’s 24-23, and you make a play its 25-23. I like the way we’re playing but we have to work on things.”
GW’s offense was a balanced effort, with five players with double-digit kills. Senior Lindsey Vernand and juniors Shannon Parks and Juliene McLaughlin led the way with 13 kills apiece. Junior Kelly Kabbes and senior Abigail Hatter had 12 kills while McLaughlin collected 13 digs.
Charlotte senior Lisa Newell paced the 49ers with a game-high 24 kills on just 39 attempts. Sophomore Alma Arroyo and junior Jessica Oldenburg collected 19 kills each. Sophomore Cori Dayton registered 20 digs for the 49ers.
After losing the first game 30-23, the Colonials seemed driven to get back into the game. After a 3-0 run to open the game, GW slipped up and let the 49ers get back into the game. The Colonials took a 20-15 lead on a kill by Parks. The 49ers were not able to inch back as GW got away with a 30-21 win, the largest margin of victory in the match.
The third game started out with a 3-0 Charlotte run before the Colonials were able scratch back to a 10-10 tie. The 49ers and the Colonials kept the match very tight and the score ended up being tied at 24 on a kill by Hatter. GW rattled off three straight points before the 49ers got on a kill by Oldenberg. GW was able to close out the game on a three-point run.
The tide turned for GW in the fourth game. After posting an early 10-6 lead, Charlotte clawed back to tie the game at 17. GW kept it and had the game at 25-24 on a kill by Hatter. A 5-0 run left GW defeated by six.
With the 49ers up 11-5 in the fifth and decisive game, GW called a time out and regrouped. GW could not post a significant enough run, but with the 49ers nursing a 14-8 lead and serving for game point, GW would not relent. A kill by sophomore Janine Brown, followed by an error by Charlotte’s Eden Ramos, left GW down 14-10. Newell was able to close the match out on a kill to the middle of the court.
GW goes on the road Oct. 28 to Philadelphia to face A-10 foes Temple and La Salle. Conference wins are at a premium during the final stretch of the season as the Colonials are vying to be one of four teams let into the conference tournament.
“Its huge,” Coronel said in reference to the last few matches of the year. “We would’ve put ourselves in a great position to make A-10s if we would’ve won this match. We’re still in the hunt. A win at Temple is huge. We just need to win at Temple.”
“I told our girls prior to this match that we should put ourselves in a situation where everything is up to us,” Coronel added.
Temple’s mentality, Coronel said, will be very aggressive.
“Temple is the number two team in our conference and they just lost to Dayton so they’ll be pissed when they play us.”