Volleyball downed Saint Louis in three-straight sets Friday to open up Atlantic 10 play and extend its win streak to five games.
Fresh off a 3–0 performance at the Dig the District Invitational, the Colonials (7–5, 1–0 A-10) defeated the Billikens (1–12, 0–1 A-10) 25–21, 25–22 and 25–20 to clinch the team’s first five-game winning streak since 2015.
Saint Louis was ranked No. 3 in the A-10 preseason poll, while GW landed at No. 5. Head coach Sarah Bernson said this clean sweep against the Billikens may have come as a surprise to many of the team’s conference competitors.
“That was a statement to the A-10,” Bernson said. “We’re here to compete.”
The Colonials faced off against the Billikens in two of their final three games of the 2017 season, losing to them in the team’s regular season finale before pulling off an upset in the first round of the A-10 tournament.
“Some people might have thought that us beating them in the A-10 tournament was a fluke – that was some of our motivation to show we had gotten better,” Bernson said.
Although the Colonials earned the sweep, each set was tightly contested, with no team sitting on a comfortable lead at any point.
The Colonials attack was strong early on, posting a .286 attack percentage in the first set, considerably outperforming the Billikens’ .152 percent showing.
But the second and third sets saw more balanced offensive matchups, with both teams averaging an attack percentage between .170 and .180 percent. GW’s offense garnered 38 kills overall while Saint Louis tallied one more.
The contributions of junior outside hitter Jordan Young, senior middle blocker Kelsey Clark and junior outside hitter Skylar Iott gave GW the edge to overcome Saint Louis. Young had 10 kills and five digs, while Clark and Iott totaled nine kills on the night.
Iott said that the team’s focus on cultivating a positive mindset even when they are losing is what allowed them to stage a comeback in the third set and complete the sweep.
“Those energetic moments fuel us,” Young said. “When we were down a couple points, we were like ‘we got this,’ and that mindset is huge to have in a game that’s made up of momentum.”
Bernson also said the team’s resiliency was a key factor in the victory. She said the team’s biggest strength throughout the match was the ability to rebound after the Billikens went on a run.
After losing two-straight sets, Saint Louis started off hot in the third set and held the lead for the majority of the game, leading 16–12 at one point.
The Billikens posted their highest attack percentage of the match during the third set, while the Colonials posted their lowest.
“Our game execution broke down a little bit in how we handled Saint Louis – they just started swinging away and we didn’t block as well as we had in the first two sets,” Bernson said.
Senior middle blocker Alexis Lete then posted two back-to-back service aces, tying the score 17–17.
“That really changed the momentum for us, got us back in the game and allowed us to finish strong,” Lete said.
The pair of aces sparked a six-point run for the Colonials, propelled by two kills from Young.
The Colonials sealed the defeat with a kill from sophomore middle blocker Callie Fauntleroy, her third of the night, to clinch the 3–0 victory.
GW will take on its second A-10 matchup Saturday against Dayton, which ranked No. 2 ahead of Saint Louis in the conference preseason poll.
Tip-off against the Flyers is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Smith Center.