This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Alex Kist.
Twice this season, the Colonials have had to compete against two of the best teams in the Atlantic 10, Dayton and Saint Louis, in the same weekend.
But neither at home nor on the road, where they were Friday against the Flyers and Sunday against the Billikens, were they able to get a win. GW (18-10, 7-5 A-10) fell in five sets to Dayton (21-5, 12-0 A-10) and suffered a clean sweep at the hands of Saint Louis (21-8, 10-3 A-10).
The Dayton contest was a nail biter with set scores of 25-16, 17-25, 25-21, 25-27 and 15-17. The Colonials and Flyers traded sets, but Dayton ultimately had the gas to clamp down on the attack at the end of the match.
“We were in system, we started right off the gate and put the pressure on them and really put a spear in them.” head coach Amanda Ault said. “Then when the second set started, they flipped things around to get even at the break. I told the girls that this was going to be a battle, and I think at the end, we went a little bit light and didn’t attack as strong as we should have.”
On Friday, junior middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu posted a career-high 14 total blocks and notched her third career double-double with 18 winners. She also showcased her offensive prowess against Saint Louis, amassing 10 kills.
For the second time this season, the Colonials fell to Billikens. But unlike the 3-2 loss on Oct. 9, Saint Loss defeated GW in only three sets. Set scores were 21-25, 26-28 and 20-25.
GW came out of the gate with a decisive kill by junior middle blocker Osuchukwu. Like in the Dayton game, both teams shared the momentum and traded points until a Billikens kill knotted the game at 8-8.
The Billikens ran away with a 7-0 rally and held the lead until the Colonials went on a 3-0 run, closing the gap at 16-20. Even though the blocking duo of Osuchukwu and sophomore outside hitter Aaliya Davidson helped the Billikens at set point at 21-24, Saint Louis came back refocused from a timeout and finished out the crucial first set with a kill.
Both teams were countering each other’s moves at the onset of the second set, until the Billikens knocked down back-to-back kills to go up 6-4. The teams traded points again until the Billikens went on a 3-0 run as the Colonials struggled to halt the attack, falling to 11-7. Saint Louis continued to build their offensive momentum, forcing GW to call timeout after a string of kills and a forced attack error to put the Colonials out of system.
Senior setter Jordan Timmer gave the team a much needed burst on the floor, knocking down a kill. Saint Louis then fell prey to one attack error after the next, creating a ripple effect, which allowed GW to tie the game at 16. GW finally stole the lead at 18-16 after capitalizing on a service error and forcing another attack error off the block. The Billikens were able to crawl back, however, to tie the game again at 19, and ride the set out to a 28-26 win.
“It was kind of the same situation as the end of the match at Dayton,” Ault said. “It’s more of a mental game for us, and dial things back and we’re scared to go for it instead of knowing that we have to go for it and being able to risk it and get a reward from that.”
To open the third set, Saint Louis jumped out to a 9-5 lead after finding holes in the GW lineup, knocking down a string of kills to control the tempo. GW charged back and was able to get the game to an 11-11 draw, but the game would be tied just one more time before the Billikens went on an 11-6 run to finish out the match.
Ault said that in both matches this weekend, the Colonials executed the game plan, but could not overcome mental barriers in the final sets of the contests. Instead of keeping that aggressive mentality and going for a kill to garner points, Ault said they would get “timid” sometimes in an attempt to minimize errors.
“Whether it’s practice or whether its competition, this week will be important for us to get that consistency, hold ourselves to a standard and make sure that we are taking care of our jobs individually,” Ault said.
GW returns on action on Friday to host Duquesne at 3 p.m.