This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.
Fresh off the sting of their first Atlantic 10 loss, the Colonials rebounded with a win against league-leading Dayton in a five-set thriller Saturday night.
By minimizing errors and playing consistently through the game, GW handed the Flyers their first loss of the conference season. After losing their composure in a Friday matchup against Saint Louis, the Colonials entered the Smith Center trying to start fresh, but knowing they had much to prove.
“Today we were really focused on making yesterday a lesson, a learning experience,” said sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu. “So our mentality today was if we change the things that obviously are the things that made us lose yesterday, then we are going to be so much more confident and we are going to win this game.”
Head coach Amanda Ault said there were three keys to the win Saturday: focus, minimizing errors and having momentum. Those factors, absent the night before, helped the team overcome the loss on just one night of rest.
There was a fourth factor in Osuchukwu. She was a powerhouse, boasting a career-high 30 kills and hitting a blistering .474 percentage. Osuchukwu coupled her power with pinpoint accuracy and had only three attack errors on 57 attempts.
“We have a saying that goes for our team. That’s, ‘Work hard for each other,’ and I think today we definitely embodied that motto,” Osuchukwu said. “I think it hit us we can’t win the game individually, we have to work together on every single aspect, and I think that’s what really drove us this time because we knew that once we have that we have the game.”
After holding a lead for most of the first set, which the Colonials won 25-22, GW fought a seesaw battle through 30 ties and 16 lead changes in the middle three sets. The team dropped the second set 25-19 and the third set 25-23 and found themselves staring down their second consecutive loss during two match points for Dayton at the end of the fourth set.
Osuchukwu came through in the clutch with a big kill to save the game the first time at 24-23, and Dayton sent the ball into the net two points later, failing to capitalize on their second match point at 25-24. The Colonials held set point after two attack errors to boost them to a 27-25 victory in the fourth.
The fifth and final set belonged to the Colonials. After an explosion of energy on the court following the win in the fourth set, a vocal bench powered the Colonials as they took the lead early in the fifth set and never lost it. GW stonewalled Dayton, holding the Flyers to a -.091 hitting percentage and collecting off of six attack errors while hitting .211 themselves.
Senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman said the win boiled down to making better adjustments than the Flyers. GW also dominated at the net with 13.0 total team blocks to Dayton’s 9.0.
“I feel like we wanted to just keep pushing the momentum because it was still a dogfight, you know, we weren’t going to let up,” Newman said. “Even if we just kept pushing and kept driving on them then they were going to fall back and we were going to end up winning so we just didn’t let up at all.”
GW will return to action Friday at 7 p.m. as the team takes on Davidson on the road.