This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Alex Kist.
The Colonials celebrate in a win earlier this season. Volleyball won two road games over the weekend to start the A-10 season 3-0. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer
It didn’t matter if it was a back-and-forth battle or a smooth sweep: Volleyball showed off its strengths this weekend against VCU and Davidson to start the conference season 3-0.
The Colonials (13-5, 3-0 A-10) have strung together four straight wins. In two weekend road games, the team stayed in the drivers seat.
On Friday, GW presented a strong offensive threat against the Rams and were able to convert 17-22 sideout point opportunities to take the first set. However, VCU came out strong in the next two games, striking back with middles hitting slides and powerful kills from the pins. In the third set, the Rams rose above a deficit and only succumbed to four attack errors, propelling them to a 25-22 win.
“We were letting [VCU] dictate what it was going to do,” said head coach Amanda Ault. “After we dropped 2-1, we started to flow and slow them down which helped us. We also made some adjustments with the lineup and it helped; it was figuring out what would be the right mix out there to get that done.”
With VCU holding a 2-1 set advantage, the Colonials worked to get their passing in sync and get rhythm back on the court. Senior Jordan Timmer started to put her teammates in good positions, which led to her seventh double-double of the season, tallying 44 assists.
But it was the defensive persistence that really helped shut down VCU’s hot right side in the final sets to solidify the win for the Colonials. In the fourth set alone, GW only allowed nine kills while posting three blocks and 15 digs. Senior libero Maddy Doyle contributed with 13 digs and added a service ace on the night and GW came back in the fifth set to win the match. Set scores were 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-12.
There was no such drama against Davidson on Sunday. The Colonials shot out to a 4-0 start in the first set. Even when the Wildcats started to close the gap and put the set within a point, GW capitalized on two back-to-back attack errors to hold the lead at 17-13. The Colonials sailed smoothly through the rest of the set onto a 25-18 win. Set point came from a decisive kill from senior setter Jordan Timmer, who produced a game-high 35 assists.
“Everyone on the pin did a really good job of stepping up,” Ault said. “Jordan hit really good situations and so you could feel the intensity and the overall energy throughout today.”
The second set was a similar story as GW stole a 4-3 lead after a kill from freshman outside hitter Hanna Justesen and a block from junior middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu forced an attack error. After running neck-and-neck with the Wildcats for most of the set, GW went on a 4-0 run with back-to-back kills from the outside hitters to give the Colonials a 16-13 advantage and just a little bit of distance. They held on for a 25-19 set win.
In the third set, the Colonials’ outside hitters were in charge. Even though they started from behind, GW caught up quickly and tied the match at 8-8 after a service ace by Aaliya Davidson, who caught fire against her namesake team.
The teams continued to go point for point until she swung right over the fingertips of several Wildcats and tied the game up again at 15-15. After a quick retaliation by the Wildcats, a kill from freshman outside hitter Kelsey Clark sparked a 4-0 run for GW to go up 20-16. Clark finished the game with 11 kills and one assist, and the Colonials came away with a 25-21 set victory.
So far this season, Ault has liked the production of the outside hitters. With Timmer putting the pins in a “good window” with lots of options, they are able to showcase their power. By extending on the follow through and getting their hands up high, the hitters are able to make big swings that go right over the opponents’ heads.
For the outsides, Davidson led all players with 13 kills on a .370 attack percentage on Sunday, also adding 10 assists for her first career double-double. Clark amassed 23 kills in the two games combined.
After trying out 12 different lineups in the VCU game, Ault said she hopes that having flexibility in lineups will benefit the team. She said that if someone isn’t having her best game, someone would be able to come off the bench and fill the void successfully.
“You can’t rely on one or two players.” Ault said. “I think it’s good that people know they have to compete day in and day out, which makes our practice that much more intense in getting us ready for the weekend.”
The Colonials return home this weekend to host Saint Louis on Friday at 7 p.m.