When the final buzzer sounded on the Colonials 3-0 victory over Central Connecticut State Saturday, it marked an accomplishment more monumental than a match victory.
It was GW’s sixth-straight win, the longest the team has gone undefeated to start the season since 2003, when they opened play with a 10-0 streak.
The Colonials were dominant during the GW Invitational over the weekend, defeating three opponents to win the tournament without dropping a single set during play. It was an impressive record of play that junior Katie Crosby attributed to the team’s intense drive to improve.
“We’ve just been working hard,” Crosby said. “From day one we’ve been in the gym twice a day. We’ve just been pushing ourselves to play our best.”
GW opened the tournament Friday night against UNC-Wilmington. Freshman Kelsey Newman and junior Lauren Whyte led the way offensively for the Colonials, posting 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Their efforts were matched by a stellar GW defense, adding 14 blocks and holding UNC to a 0.035 kill percentage, ending in a 3-0 Colonials victory.
The Colonials opened play the next day in their second match of the tournament, facing North Carolina Central. Freshman Christy Harper delivered a breakout game, playing a key role on defense with 12 kills and a .611 attack percentage. But it was Crosby who was integral to the Colonials convincing 3-0 win, setting up the outside hitters, getting digs, blocks and posting 29 assists. Head coach Amanda Ault, in her first year with the program, pointed out Crosby’s foresight and attention to play as crucial elements in a GW victory.
“We’ve been stressing watching what’s going on the other side to help dictate what she’ll do with the ball, setting up hitters one-on-one, who’s hot for her, who’s having a great game, just being able to set those things up,” Ault said. “She’s continually working on that and I think she’s doing a good job.”
The Colonials faced their toughest match of the tournament against Central Connecticut State. The Colonials earned a 25-14 set victory in the first set, and when GW quickly took a 21-12 lead during the second set, the stage seemed set for the same sort of quick, decisive victory they had posted in the first two matches of the tournament.
But determined not to fall easily, CCSU battled back, capitalizing on Colonials errors to tie the set at 24. GW eventually posted a 26-24 set victory, a close call Ault attributed to a slump in GW’s play midway through the match.
“We’re letting too many runs of points happen to us,” Ault said. “We’re good with the start of the game, we’re good at the end of the game, but we have this lull in the middle which we need to take care of.”
GW controlled the third set, posting a 25-19 set victory and winning the match 3-0. Junior Candace Silva-Martin lead the way with 15 digs, earning her recognition on the all-tournament team, along with Whyte, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, and senior MacKenzie Knox, who hit .314 with 15 kills and two block assists.
The team’s dominant tournament record, Ault said, is a product of the unity evident in her program’s play.
“Our team chemistry has been really great,” Ault said. “I think from top to bottom they’ve just really meshed well, they’ve spent a lot of time together, you can’t tell the freshman from the seniors, they just all mix together. It’s been a big thing for us.”
GW looks to stay undefeated when they travel to Richmond, Va. next weekend for the VCU/Third Degree Sportswear Invitational.