Volleyball concludes perfect weekend with dominant win over North Dakota

The volleyball's bench cheers after winning a point over Auburn on Friday. Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer
The volleyball team’s bench cheers after winning a point over Auburn on Friday. Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Updated: Nov. 2, 2014 at 10:19 a.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

The volleyball team continued its impressive start to the season Saturday with a dominant straight-sets victory (25-20, 25-17, 25-20) against North Dakota.

With that win, the Colonials wrap up their host tournament 3-0 and without losing a single set (9-0).

GW overpowered North Dakota for most of the game, displaying an intensity that had carried through each match during the weekend.

The Colonials jumped out in front against North Dakota (1-2) in the first set, commanding a six-point lead. Sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu and senior Kelsey Newman both totaled five kills apiece, and junior libero Maddy Doyle totaled 10 digs for GW, which never trailed in the set.

Newman and Osuchukwu finished with 17 and 13 kills, respectively. Sophomore Loren Williams finished the game with 14 kills of her own. GW hitters were cleanly assisted once again by junior setter Jordan Timmer, who led all players with a career-high 47 assists in the game.

“Our team mentality going into the first set was to go out with a lot of energy, be better than we were last night and hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Osuchukwu said. “We wanted to come out and not get complacent.”

The Colonials were able to maintain a good rhythm on the offensive end, but also displayed their defensive strength once again against North Dakota. GW out-blocked their rivals 7-6 and won the digs battle by totaling a notable 85 digs to North Dakota’s 60. Five GW players finished the match in double figures in digs, led by Doyle’s game-high 22 digs. So far this season, the Colonials have emphasized stopping opponents on the pin.

“[Blocking] is a really important part to our strategy,” Newman said. “Going into a game, we pick out a few girls that have certain strengths or hit in specific ways to take on that role. Most teams have that go-to player, so it is really important for us to shut her down.”

GW held North Dakota to a .105 hitting percentage. After ending its two previous invitational games with at least two players in double figures in kills, no North Dakota player reached double figures Saturday.

In the third set, GW was not as fast to pull away from North Dakota. Miscommunication contributed to the team’s slow start, which at one point resulted in two Colonials diving and missing a ball.

With GW trailing 7-3 early in the third set, the team found itself in a bit of uncharted territory compared to the other sets in the game – and other sets the entire weekend.

“Our strategy has been not to panic when we’re down,” Osuchukwu said. “Even when we were down, we knew we just needed to fix a few things and everything was going to change. It was important for us to stay calm and trust each other that we are going to be able to fix the problems that we’re making.”

GW would immediately begin to mount a comeback after Ault called a time out. An 8-2 Colonials run both erased the deficit and propelled them in front of North Dakota.

“At the timeout, we talked about the miscommunication,” Ault said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re making it easier on the next person who is going to play that ball, easier in general just knowing what’s going on. We need to make sure we are connecting with the person next to us out on the floor.”

The Colonials face the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico in an exhibition game Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Game note: Newman, Osuchukwu and Timmer were all named to the Invitational All-Tournament team, with Osuchukwu earning tournament MVP.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Osuchukwu is a junior. She is a sophomore. We regret this error.

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