The Colonials couldn’t keep their hot streak going.
Heading into the weekend, GW knew that even with momentum from five wins out of its last six conference matchups, back-to-back contests against Dayton and Xavier would be an extremely tough test.
Following a loss on Friday to Dayton and a late rally in Saturday’s match against Xavier that forced a deciding fifth set, it looked liked the Colonials would be able to exit the weekend with a 1-1 record. But an issue that has plagued the team all season resurfaced, and too many unforced errors handed Xavier the victory – leaving GW winless on their Ohio road trip.
“We played really well at times, and then we made a ton of errors at times,” head coach Amanda Ault said. “It’s the thing that has gotten away from us and we’ve dealt with all season in being streaky, and that’s exactly what happened to us.”
Friday’s match against Dayton saw GW facing its fifth ranked opponent of the year, as well as the top-ranked team in the A-10. At the start, the Colonials were keeping up with the Flyers point for point, battling through five tie scores until Dayton was able to grab the first set 25-17. From that point on, GW was playing catch-up. Dayton jumped out to a 18-11 lead in the second set, and despite two mini runs by the Colonials, was able to take the second 25-22. There was no chance for GW in the third, as the Flyers swung an incredible .545 with just three attack errors. They would win the set 25-15, clinching the 3-0 sweep and extending their undefeated conference record.
The biggest issue for the Colonials came in the form of Dayton’s All-American outside hitter Rachel Krabacher. She led all players with 12 kills and added nine digs to help the Flyers on both sides of the ball.
“We knew that the game was going to go through her,” Ault said. “And then their middles are extremely fast and they get up quick and have good arms, so we knew blocking was going to be key for us. We knew what we needed to do – we just needed to execute it a little bit more than we did.”
In Saturday’s marathon match against Xavier, it was inconsistent play that plagued the Colonials. After a slow start in the first set, GW burst out on a 13-4 run, giving them the lead and eventually the set, 25-20. The Colonials went silent in the second set though, putting together only eight kills on their way to a 25-13 loss to the Musketeers. Strong Xavier play continued into the third set, where an early 15-3 lead quickly grew to a 25-15 win. With their backs against the wall, the Colonials regained their offensive firepower and took the fourth set 25-22. The Musketeers were unfazed though, jumping out to an 11-4 lead in the fifth, and then closing out the match with consecutive points for a final score of 15-10.
“It’s like we became a completely different team and let things get away from us,” Ault said. “We became extremely predictable in the way we were going, having to put a lot of pressure on our outsides, and they put up good blocks. We just couldn’t get anything going, and it really affected our confidence.”
Leading the way for the Colonials was senior Lauren Whyte, who posted 17 kills and six digs. Following behind with a double-double was sophomore Kelsey Newman, who added 11 kills and 12 digs. Freshman Alexis Huntey continued to grow in her new role as starting setter, putting up 32 assists and 10 digs.
Despite the loss, Ault was pleased with the increasing leadership that Huntey has shown.
“She’s grown so much as a leader,” Ault said. “She’s a very strong individual and has a great volleyball mind. So she’s stepped into that position and done very well for us.”
Looking ahead, the Colonials now have just three A-10 matches left to improve upon their 6-5 conference record. Though they couldn’t get it done this past weekend with A-10 positioning on the line, they have two opportunities at home to increase their standings.
These upcoming matchups, Ault said, will be extremely important.
“We want to take care of our destiny, so we’re still in a good place,” Ault said. “We just need to make sure every match from here on out we control and we take care of. That means tightening up the things that we need to be successful moving forward these next few weeks, and into the tournament.”