It’s been two weeks and five games since GW allowed an opponent to walk away victorious.
The Colonials capitalized upon strong individual play across the roster, sweeping both their matches against Temple and La Salle this weekend. They have now won seven of their last eight games, bringing their overall record to 17-6, 6-3 in Atlantic 10 play.
“It had been a while since we played on the road, and this was our first road conference win, so it’s a great feeling for the team,” head coach Amanda Ault said.
In the first set against Temple Friday, GW held on for a 3-0 victory despite a close game that saw 19 ties over its duration. The Colonials earned a 25-19 victory in the first set, and were then able to take a commanding 2-0 lead with a 25-23 win in the second. GW hit a commanding .341 in the second set, battling to overcome eight ties and three lead changes.
The third set saw the Colonials step up their defensive play to ensure victory, forcing eight Owls errors and holding Temple to a -.030 hitting percentage en route to another 25-19 set win.
“We did a good job taking care of the first ball,” Ault said. “We were able to set up our middles and players like [senior] MacKenzie [Knox] who were really getting it done for the team.”
Junior Lauren Whyte added eight kills and 10 digs for the Colonials Friday, while redshirt junior Katie Crosby contributed 37 assists. The team was explosive defensively as well, holding Temple to a hitting percentage of .094 on the match.
It was Knox who paced GW’s offensive attack against Temple, posting career-highs in both kills, with 15, and points, with 17.5. She was also a pivotal player on the defensive side, earning five key blocks for the Colonials.
“She did a great job of finding the open floor,” Ault said. “She just kept going up to the net with a purpose.”
The Colonials fought a harder battle against La Salle Saturday, working to earn a perfect weekend against their Atlantic 10 foes. GW controlled most of the first set, holding the Owls to a .043 attack percentage, and eventually winning 25-18.
But the second set saw a slower start for the Colonials, who trailed 9-5 in the opening play and saw the score tie at 20. Still, GW fought hard, battling for a 25-21 set after five lead changes and 11 ties.
“We were playing a little sloppy,” Ault said. “In the end, it still worked out, but we can’t be playing at half-speed. We need to take care of what we can control and avoid being one-dimensional.”
The third set was again a set of comebacks for the Colonials. Early on, they were down 8-3, and it looked as if La Salle was poised to force a fourth set when the Explorers took an 18-14 lead. But GW responded with an eight-point run of its own, putting the game out of reach and eventually finishing the sweep with a 25-20 win.
In their hard-fought victory, the Colonials saw three sophomores earn double-digit kills: Rachael Goss and Taylor Knox with 11, and Jamie Armstrong with 10. GW also boasted four players with double-digit digs: freshman Savannah Clark with 10, Goss with 12, Crosby with 11 and junior Candace Silva-Martin with 21. It was a true team effort that earned crucial A-10 road victories.
“It’s not easy getting wins on the road,” Ault said. “There are still things we need to work on, but this is a good boost for us moving forward.”
The Colonials take to the road again next weekend, heading to Xavier Oct. 28 and Dayton Oct. 29.
This article appeared in the October 24, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.