For the GW volleyball team, warming up for the GW Invitational last weekend took a little bit longer than expected. After dropping the first match 3-0 to East Carolina University Friday night, the Colonials came back Saturday with 3-1 and 3-0 victories, against the University of Hartford and Howard University, respectively.
“I was a little disappointed in the ECU performance,” coach Jojit Coronel said. “They played fast and we didn’t play fast enough. We’re still young so we can learn a lot from watching a team like that.”
The Colonials (7-6) appeared to learn quickly from their mistakes, dropping only one set after being swept by ECU.
“(Friday) night we didn’t play to our full potential,” said senior Janine Brown, who led the Colonials against the Pirates with 13 kills. “To come back and dominate these two teams gave us confidence.”
Against ECU, GW fell 15-30, 24-30 and 28-30, hitting an underwhelming .097 on 32 kills. Junior Liz Moult and senior Jackie Yaniga combined for an additional 12 points, but East Carolina proved too quick en route to a perfect record at the event.
The Colonials more than kept up with their Saturday opponents, winning both matches while dropping only a single set, the first against Hartford. GW did not again trail the Hawks at any point during the match, winning the final games 30-23 and 30-18.
The Colonials out-hit the Hawks .304 to .250, registering 63 kills on 135 attempts. Five Colonials had double-digit points while senior setter Jess Buche tallied 40 assists. Freshman Katie Zulandt added 13.5 points off the bench.
The momentum from the Hartford match rolled over to the Howard contest, with GW winning by scores of 30-23, 30-26 and 30-14 in a competition that featured no lead changes and only one tie. Freshman Leah Hill notched 11 digs and four aces, including the winning points in the second and third games.
“We just stuck to it,” Coronel said after defeating Howard, which dropped to 0-11. “Any win is essential for the confidence of the team, regardless of the opponent.”
Brown again led the Colonials with 13 kills, including three down the stretch of the final game. Buche added 22 assists while junior Maggie Wright had eight in just the final game.
The strongest challenge mounted by the Bison came in the second game, when an 18-10 Colonials advantage quickly dissolved to just 22-20. Hill came up with a timely kill, sparking a string of six unanswered GW points under freshman Hannah Stuart’s serve.
After the game, Brown praised the team’s unity and showed optimism for upcoming conference play, which begins Sept. 21 at Fordham.
“We really came together as a team,” she said. “As long as we do that the rest of the year, we’ll be fine.”
Brown and sophomore Abby Syverson, who recorded 14.5 points against Hartford, were named to the all-tournament team following the victory.
The Colonials travel next to Baltimore for their final out-of-conference match, against Loyola Maryland, Sept. 18.