It’s eight in the morning and the Smith Center is not only bumping, but it’s setting and spiking as well. At this early hour, the GW volleyball team is just hitting its stride.
In perhaps the most rhythmic of college sports, coach Jojit Coronel sets the tone. Counting down from three, Coronel sets in motion a perfectly timed percussion section of slapping palms, squeaking hightops and slamming hardwood.
Yet the most important sounds on the court are the shouts of each and every player. From the moment the ball is served, there is a nonstop chorus of communication and competition, illustrating the intensity and excitement of the team – even at 8 a.m. They shout as if their lives, or at least the next win, depend on it.
“There’s always a fine line between being competitive with your best friend and just being best friends,” Coronel said. “You have to challenge each other to compete. That’s what separates the upper-echelon teams from the rest.”
Though Coronel said it is the intra-team competition that could turn the Colonials into a stronger team in 2008, GW has seen plenty of competition across the net this season. The team is off to a 3-2 start, defeating American and George Mason before losing to Georgetown in their first tournament. Last weekend, the Colonials bested Villanova before falling to Penn State – the No. 1 team in the nation.
“Your weaknesses are going to show more in your losses,” Coronel said. “But you learn a lot from the wins as well. You breed success by winning.”
Winning, though, is something that the GW volleyball team is going to have to learn to do without injured players Jenny O’Brien and Leah Hill, the team’s kill leader. In their absence, it could be time for other newcomers or bench players to make big contributions.
“It’s a great opportunity for our veterans and younger girls to step up,” Coronel said. “Regardless of age, you’re in the same game. Either you can play or you can’t.”
This weekend, the Colonials will host Delaware State and Rider at the Smith Center. With the GW squad sporting a new look with five freshmen, the Colonials’ performance at the GW Invitational might be a good indicator of whether or not this team is ready to take the next step.
“The face of our team has changed. We have a lot of winners, people that are used to just winning,” Coronel said. “We’re good, athletic and young. But we also know how to win, and that breeds tradition.”