Volleyball’s difficult season continued during a three-game weekend homestand beginning last Friday night.
The Colonials (2–20, 2–9 A–10) failed to win a single set and were out-killed 136–89 across three matches the weekend. Junior outside hitter Sarah Pintel led the Colonials with 17 total kills while freshman outside hitter Salem Yohannes pitched in with 15 of her own throughout the weekend.
GW’s first match was against a Saint Louis (14–9, 7–3 A–10) team that had dropped its last three games, but the visitors found their stride Friday night in a straight-set win. Billikens’ senior outside hitter Maya Taylor and sophomore opposite Delaney Rice combined for 33 kills, seven more than the entire Colonials’ team, and setter Kate Auperley added 38 assists.
“In periods we weren’t able to set that block up well enough for the second line to read,” head coach Sarah Bernson said. “Credit to SLU, they hit some good shots that would score even if we were at our best.”
Yohannes and sophomore opposite Liv Womble both led GW with five kills and senior libero Bella Bowman’s 12 digs were tied for the highest amount in the match.
The Colonials got off to a quick start in the opening set against the Billikens by opening up a 3–0 lead. Saint Louis found its footing and took its first lead of the match at 9–8 and continued to turn up the heat as the first set wore on, eventually capturing it by a score of 25–20. The Billikens ended the set with 20 kills and a .421 kill percentage, while GW committed nine total errors to Saint Louis’ four.
GW mounted a comeback late in the second set, winning seven out of eight points to bring the score to 21–18, but a sequence of errors and miscommunication from the Colonials allowed Saint Louis to get to match point at 24–20.
“It’s a matter of taking what the coaches have been telling us, and implementing that and translating that and talking about it with our blockers,” senior outside hitter Paz Dozie–Nnamah said. “Because if our blockers aren’t there, our defense can’t set up, and if our defense isn’t set up the blockers don’t know if they’re set up or not so it’s a matter of that, that type of communication.”
A Yohannes kill allowed GW to hang on for another point but a powerful hit from Rice proved too forceful, deflecting off of Bowman and out of bounds to secure the set for the Billikens.
The Colonials kept it close at the beginning of the third set but Saint Louis led by as many as nine points at 23–14. A miscommunication between Yohannes and Bowman allowed the ball to drop right between them to give match point to the Billikens at 24–14.
GW held on for two more points but ultimately fell in the third set, 25–16, for its 18th loss of the campaign.
“We showed some good fight in some places during the game which was really good to see,” senior outside hitter Noelle Dwyer said. “But there is a little bit of disappointment because we’ve been working a lot this week in practice on some things that didn’t really translate to the match.”
Though the Colonials dropped all three sets in the following match Saturday against Fordham (6–14, 3–6 A–10), the loss proved to be a tightly contested affair with each set being decided by three or fewer points.
The Rams came out on top in a straight–set victory, led by 12 kills from sophomore outside hitter Whitley Moody and 32 assists from junior setter Megan Brzozowski. Pintel notched eight kills for the Colonials and senior setter Lauren LaBeck had 16 assists.
A pair of errors and a service ace opened up a 11–6 lead for Fordham in the first set to tie for the largest lead either team would have across the entire match. Both teams traded scoring spurts throughout the set and a kill from Pintel cut Fordham’s lead down to 21–20, but the Rams were able to pull in front and finish the set courtesy of a kill from Moody.
The Colonials were poised to take the second set and tie up the match but failed to hold onto a five–point lead of their own.
A four-point GW run, bookended by kills from freshman opposite MC Daubendiek, opened up a 13–8 lead for the hosts. A Moody kill followed by three straight Colonial attack errors allowed Fordham to edge their way in front at 18–17.
Later in the set, Pintel came up big with a kill to put GW ahead, 22–21, but again a series of errors allowed the Rams to string together four consecutive points and claim the second set.
Fordham was able to close out the series in a roller–coaster third set that featured six runs of four points or more between the two teams. The Colonials led late in the set, claiming a 19–15 advantage after a five–point run powered by LaBeck’s serving, only to watch it all slip away.
The Rams won eight of the next nine points to put themselves in the driver’s seat leading 24–21. GW attempted to mount a comeback of its own, winning the next two points but a service error from senior setter Heather Merryman ended the match.
Rhode Island (11–14, 3–6 A–10) was the final challenge for GW Sunday afternoon. Despite improving their score through each set, the Colonials still succumbed to a 3–0 defeat behind the Rams’ 51 kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Bryne Wright led all players with 14 kills while freshman setter Grace Hammond racked up 42 assists. Junior middle blocker Addie Feek had six kills to top the charts for the Colonials.
Rhode Island kept GW at arm’s length for the entirety of the first set, convincingly winning it 25–16 with 22 of their points coming from kills.
The Colonials started stronger in the second set and led near the midway point at 10–8, but could not keep up with the Rams in a 25–18 defeat.
The third set presented the best chance for GW to put something on the board when a 4–0 Colonial run tied the set at 19–19, but Rhode Island quickly quashed any hopes for the home team by winning six of the next seven points to close out the match.
The Colonials have just five matches left in the season and will take the court again at Saint Louis Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.