Volleyball dropped below .500 for the first time since mid-September after its loss to West Virginia Tuesday.
The Colonials (8–9, 2–3 A-10) were easily downed by the Mountaineers (9–9, 1–4 Big 12) in three sets, losing 25–15, 25–16 and 25–13. The game was GW’s first nonconference matchup since its Sept. 15 win against Coppin State and comes five games into the team’s 14-game Atlantic 10 schedule.
“I think playing someone not in our regular schedule is a good changeup,” head coach Sarah Bernson said. “It’s good for us to get another standard of measure as we progress.”
The Colonials were without junior outside hitter Skylar Iott and junior setter Jaimeson Lee, who are both fixtures in the team’s starting lineup.
Iott leads the team in kills with 231, and her 172 digs are good for third on the squad behind freshman libero Bella Bowman and Lee. Lee’s 509 assists this season account for 72 percent of the team’s total on the season and are far ahead of the team’s next highest tally, which belongs to freshman setter Heather Merryman who has tallied 95 assists.
“It was a game where we weren’t at our full optimum roster, so it was good still to see what we can do,” Bernson said.
Merryman, who has started the last three games in place of Lee, finished the night with 24 assists.
“Heather came in her first game and killed it,” senior middle blocker Alexis Lete said. “After that game, we have full confidence that she can do just as good as our other setter.”
The squad struggled against a tough West Virginia block all night, swinging a .064 attack percentage on the night. The Mountaineers bested the Colonials with 10 blocks, eight more than GW’s total.
The Colonials struggled to put the ball away early, swinging for a .086 attack percentage in the first set compared to West Virginia’s .323 attack percentage. GW tallied only nine kills in the first frame while West Virginia tallied 14.
The Colonials went on a four-point scoring run after trailing 16–8 to bring the set within four points, forcing West Virginia to call its only timeout of the match.
The Mountaineers broke GW’s run with a kill following the timeout and went on to a 25–15 victory.
The Colonials jumped out to an early 4–1 lead in the second set – their largest of the night – thanks to two kills from sophomore outside hitter Marianna Warren.
The Mountaineers responded with three kills of their own, eventually trading points to force a 6–6 tie before cracking open a 6–0 run. West Virginia maintained the lead for the remainder of the game, eventually besting GW 25–16. GW’s nine-point margin of loss was the smallest of the three sets.
“I think we’ve been struggling with being able to stop some runs, and that comes along with getting that focus on that first ball that they send over and executing,” Warren said.
Warren tallied seven kills in the second set to keep GW afloat. She finished the night with a team-leading 10 kills.
West Virginia took another commanding lead at the onset of the third set, at one point leading the Colonials by as many as 14 points.
With GW down 23–9, junior outside hitter Jordan Young posted a kill to bring the Colonials into double digits.
After a West Virginia kill brought the game to match point, Lete slammed one of her five kills on the night to keep the Colonials alive.
A West Virginia attack error and a serving ace by sophomore libero Sydney Welch brought the score to 24–11, but a kill from the Mountaineers put GW away for a third-straight set to give West Virginia the game.
The Colonials will now embark on a four-game road trip spread over 10 days. Bernson said the team needs to maintain a constant positive attitude to come away from the trips successful.
“If we can be consistent with our energy, that will be big for us,” Bernson said.
The Colonials will begin their road trip in North Carolina against Davidson Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.