Volleyball took Dayton to four sets Saturday night before dropping to the Flyers 3-1 to close out GW’s first weekend of conference play.
The Colonials (7-6, 1-1 A-10) were unable to pull ahead of the Flyers (11-4, 2-0 A-10) in a challenging first game, breaking GW’s five-game win streak – the team’s longest since 2015. The loss comes after the Colonials’ first Atlantic 10 win Friday night when the Colonials swept Saint Louis 3-0.
Head coach Sarah Bernson said the weekend’s close matches put an added pressure on GW to keep performing better than the conference projected them to finish.
“You want to be someone that they fear and that they have to prep for,” Bernson said, “That puts added pressure on us, but if you’re a good team you have that.”
The Colonials were swept by the Flyers in two of their three meetings last season. Dayton knocked GW out of the A-10 Championship in the semifinal round.
The team came out strong in the first frame. After giving up the first point of the match, the team went on a 5-0 run, forcing the Flyers to play from behind. Dayton responded with three-straight points of their own but the Colonials continued to block well at the net to get possession again.
GW took Dayton to extra points, tying the Flyers at 22-22, 24-24 and 25-25 before an attack error and a block pushed Dayton ahead by two, giving them the 28-26 victory in set one.
“We scrambled well,” Bernson said. “I think we handled their offense and talked about what they were doing so we weren’t lost.”
Junior outside hitter Skylar Iott said the team has been focusing on keeping a positive mindset, but they came up short when they hit tough spots against the Flyers.
“Tonight it took us a little while to get back up on the horse when we were down by a couple points or we when made a really good shot,” Iott said, “How we portrayed ourselves on the court was a little lacking tonight.”
Iott lead the team with 15 kills on the night, while senior middle blocker Kelsey Clark followed closely behind with 11.
Dayton’s attack continued to be powerful in the second frame, when the Flyers pulled ahead 6-2. The Colonials responded and overcame a four-point deficit to battle the Flyers in the middle of the set. A service error by Dayton and a kill by Iott broke a 19-19 stalemate to give GW a 21-19 lead.
Both teams continued to trade points as the Flyers held GW at set point to take the frame into extra points. Two-straight errors by Dayton gave GW the 26-24 set win.
“Dayton is in the top of the conference and there is little history between us but we take things personally,” Clark said. “We try to go out and play as hard as we can and show them what kind of team we are.”
The third set opened much like the second with the Flyers pulling ahead 4-1. But the Colonials would not let the Flyers take a comfortable lead.
A kill by Iott tied the score at six points each and the Colonials kept after the Flyers, with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. Dayton went on a 4-0 scoring run to pull ahead 14-10 but GW staged a comeback with a 4-0 run of their own to tie the score.
Bernson said that the team was able to identify and react to plays by Dayton, but their transitions and offense weren’t clean.
“We missed a couple shots that were close and you can’t be mad at the athletes because they were making the right decision,” Bernson said. “The intent was there, but the execution was only 75 percent 80 percent. ”
Back-to-back service aces from junior outside hitter Jordan Young put GW up 18-16 but the Flyers soon answered, trading points with GW throughout the rest of the set. Dayton was able to close out, ending with three-straight kills to put them on top, 25-22.
In the fourth set, the Flyers pulled out to their largest lead of the night 16-11 after a competitive start.
An attack error by Dayton and a service ace from freshman libero Bella Bowman put GW within two of the lead 18-16. But the Flyers built off their momentum, closing the set ahead 25-20 and clinching the match win.
The Colonials return to action 7 p.m. Friday at George Mason.