Volleyball sweeps D.C. Challenge

Before classes even started in Foggy Bottom, the GW women’s volleyball team started its year off on the right foot.

The volleyball team opened its season with a three-game sweep in the D.C. Challenge this weekend, knocking off local rivals Georgetown, American and George Mason over the two-day event. GW has now taken the title twice in the four years that the tournament has been held.

The Colonials began the weekend by holding out against Georgetown Friday at the George Mason campus in Fairfax, Va. GW won a tight 3-2 contest, coming from behind after dropping two of the first three games.

The Saturday games proved to be both exhilarating and exhausting for the Colonials, as American nearly matched GW point-for-point in their first match of the day. At one point, senior Abby Syverson slammed a killer spike to break an 8-8 tie and gave GW a slim and brief advantage, as throughout the first set GW was either up or down by one point. Though the Colonials would eventually drop the game, it didn’t seem to affect the girls’ confidence as they came back to take the next three for a 3-1 victory in the first half of their Saturday doubleheader.

With only one hour to rest, GW was soon back on the court for the final match of the event. Any potential fatigue didn’t show as the Colonials battled with George Mason, stealing the first point of the first set. For most of the rest of the set, the Patriots kept GW on its heels, blocking numerous spikes and returning almost every block. But through the long and impressive volleys, GW managed to come out on top, winning the first set 25-17, thanks to the impressive double blocks by senior Katie Butz and junior Katie Zulandt.

The second set got off to a slow start for the Colonials as they struggled to keep up and frequently fell behind by small margins. Despite the deficits, the team remained high-spirited and cheered each other on, with junior Leah Hill finally winning the point that pulled them to a 16-16 tie. It wasn’t long before GW pulled ahead, winning the set 25-21 before cruising through the third to complete their sweeps of both George Mason and the D.C. Challenge overall.

With combined totals of 46.5 points, 37 kills and 15 blocks, Butz was named the tournament’s most valuable player, though she was quick to attribute her success elsewhere, describing it as the result of “good team work, good passing and good setting.”

“We haven’t even reached our peak yet,” she added enthusiastically. “The freshmen helped a lot and are playing really well.”

Head coach Jojit Coronel said his team’s success in this tournament was due to its controlled leads and winning-moment timing.

“They took care of possessions really well and created leads,” he said.

The Colonials will continue their season next weekend with three matches in the Minnesota Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, where they will meet Iowa State, Auburn and host, Minnesota.

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