For the first time since Sept. 15, volleyball won consecutive matches last weekend at the Smith Center and moved up the conference standings to a fifth-place tie in the Atlantic 10.
The Colonials defeated Duquesne 3–1 Friday night and La Salle 3–1 Saturday night to move to 9–18 on the season and 5–6 in league action.
“This weekend was two teams that we thought we could beat based on our past performance and current improvement,” head coach Sarah Bernson said. “It is just good to get the reward of seeing our improvement manifesting in wins.”
GW was led by junior outside hitter Kelsey Clark and seniors outside hitter Aaliya Davidson and opposite Kristel Moor during both contests. They combined for 80 kills and a .282 attack percentage and were the only Colonials players to finish with double-digit kill totals in either matchup.
In Friday’s game, freshman libero Sydney Welch broke the program record for digs in a four-set match, with 34.
The Colonials are now tied with Rhode Island for fifth place in the A-10, one game behind Duquesne. The top six teams will compete in the conference tournament – an event GW missed last year.
“We are shooting to go to the A-10 tournament, and we have to be in the six spot or above,” junior Gillian Kane said. “Before the games we realize that it is crucial and we have to really turn it on in order to keep that spot or move up.”
Since the beginning of the year, GW has had more success playing on its home floor. The Colonials – who are 2-10 on the road – picked up their fourth and fifth victories at home over the weekend. They play host in each of their final three matchups.
Friday night against Duquesne
The Colonials came into their match with the Dukes following two consecutive losses on the road during which they won only one combined set.
GW started strong in the first set, opening up a 3–0 lead. After the score was tied at 10, the Colonials began to pull away, taking a 20–15 lead. Duquesne called a timeout and mounted a comeback that brought the game within one point, but ultimately lost the set by four points.
The second set had a much different tone, as Duquesne was firmly in control en route to a 25–13 scoreline. GW committed ten errors and swung -0.05 percent in the set.
“You have to spend a lot of attention to detail, and we did that in the first set,” Bernson said. “I joked that we went on a coffee break in the second set, but we’ve got to get back to doing the work.”
Moor opened up the third set with three consecutive kills. The Dukes managed to tie the score at 13 but didn’t get the lead for the remainder of the set. GW’s lead dropped to two points at 24–22, but a kill from Clark iced the set for the Colonials.
The fourth and final set was the closest of the evening as GW seeked to finish off the match. The Dukes led from the start, culminating in a 14–12 lead. The two teams went blow for blow during the next several points. The set was tied at every point from 15 to 21, but the Colonials found the advantage late and clinched the game with a 25–22 set win.
Saturday night against La Salle
GW won each of the first four points of the first set and looked in command of the attack game. The Colonials continued their momentum behind two extended service runs by Clark and seven kills by Moor. The Explorers fell 25–15 in the set after struggling to match the home team at the net and committing four return errors.
In the second set, La Salle displayed a much stronger offensive effort, swinging .500 and knotting the score up eight different times. A kill by Clark gave GW a 21–20 lead that they never gave up en route to a 25–23 set victory.
Both sides increased their error count in the third set, but the Explorers maintained a slightly higher attack percentage and picked up their first and only set of the night. They finished with a 25–20 advantage after leading by at least two for the final 15 points.
The Colonials concluded their night with a 25–20 victory of their own in the fourth set. The set was tightly contested at the start until the 12-point mark. GW went on a 5–0 run and did not let its lead slip below four for the rest of the match.
“We did a better job staying disciplined, I know we have struggled with that in the past,” Kane, who recorded nine digs on the weekend, said. “Our serving was really strong tonight, and we were able to affect their game a little bit.”
GW will return to action against George Mason at the Smith Center Friday at 7 p.m.