After losing five of their last six games on the road, the Colonials returned home to the Smith Center determined to win.
There’s a comfort level that comes with playing at home, head coach Amanda Ault said, one she thinks is reflected in her team’s play. GW (12-5) seemed to agree, posting a 3-1 victory over Charlotte Saturday night.
“We were just really hoping that we would come back to our original team,” freshman Kelsey Newman said. “Something happened – for so long, we were just kind of down in a ditch and it was just kind of hard to climb out of.”
Even being back at home, the Colonials took a set to rediscover their rhythm. The team fell behind in the beginning of the first set 7-1 and never pulled within three points of the 49ers. Despite serves by junior Lauren Whyte that helped the team gain late points, the Colonials lost the first set of the match 25-20.
Set two started with a deadlock, until Charlotte pulled ahead 9-4. Whyte stepped up to serve and command the offense, and the Colonials rallied to tie the score 9-9, earning a one-point lead before Charlotte knotted the score at ten. Again, the Colonials pulled ahead to take a 15-11 lead, before the 49ers called a time-out.
GW wasn’t fazed. Newman and sophomore Taylor Knox combined efforts toward five kills at the end of the set, and Whyte, sophomore Jamie Armstrong and freshman Christy Harper each added a kill. Combined with errors by the 49ers, the Colonials went on to win set two 25-20.
In the third set, the Colonials and 49ers were neck-and-neck until GW pulled ahead with a 12-7 lead. Despite a kill from Armstrong, the 49ers came within close range of the Colonials, bringing the score to 13-12. But with several kills by Newman, Whyte and Armstrong, GW maintained its lead for the remainder of the set to win 25-22.
Set four started with a service error that allowed Charlotte to go up 1-0 on GW, but Harper quickly tied the score with a kill from junior Katie Crosby. Throughout the fourth set, Crosby set up Harper, as well as Whyte, Armstrong and Newman for many kills. These kills, as well as several errors by the 49ers, allowed the Colonials to come out with their most decisive win of the match, 25-18, posting a 3-1 overall victory.
“We need to play with confidence. And I think tonight they found that again,” Ault said. “We should have confidence because of what we’ve done this season. And I’m very excited [about] how they played tonight, and the confidence that they’ve found.”
GW was again paced by a strong presence across the roster. Veterans Whyte and Knox posted 12 kills apiece, Newman and Harper, both freshmen, had 14 and 10 kills, respectively. On defense, junior Candace Silva-Martin led the team in digs with 18. Armstrong and Knox combined for six assisted blocks.
The Colonials will continue to utilize depth across their roster when they host another A-10 rival, taking on Dayton Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
“We’re just taking the conference game by game,” Ault said. “We know that every conference game is important, and we have a couple weeks at home now, so that will be good for us to get back into a rhythm.”