Freshman defensive specialist Christina Porada dives for a ball in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.
After stringing together back-to-back wins against Dayton and Davidson, the volleyball team seemed to have found its stride in conference play.
But against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, GW dropped the match in straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) in one of its worst statistical performances of the season.
The Colonials posted season lows in hitting percentage (.054), kills (29) and assists (29) and tied its season low in digs (37) on their way to their third straight-sets loss of the season.
GW’s lackluster performance came just a week after the team defeated the A-10 leading Flyers in a thrilling five-set performance. Sunday’s performance against the Rams, who eliminated the Colonials in the conference semifinals last season, left head coach Amanda Ault shaking her head as she watched her team put on an uncharacteristic display.
“We weren’t able to get into a groove and we weren’t able to run stuff on our side,” Ault said. “It really is shocking to me how we can go into a game this point in the season and just not show up.”
GW (14-6, 5-2 A-10) got off to a slow start from the opening set against VCU (12-9, 5-3 A-10). Ault said the Colonials began the match the same way they did last week in a 3-1 road loss to Saint Louis, where the team put itself in a hole and could not escape it.
GW started the match hitting .000, totaling just seven kills against seven attack errors. After improving on the pin in the second set, totaling 13 kills against seven attack errors, the Colonials regressed in the final set and hit .000.
Ault said her team wasn’t in the right place mentally entering the game, which was necessary against a Rams team that entered the match as winners of 10 its last 12 games.
“I felt like our connection, our timing, our tempo was just off today, and there was no communication,” Ault said.
The Colonials failed to find their rhythm and aggression throughout the match. Sophomore middle blocker and reigning A-10 player of the week Chidima Osuchukwu hit just .174 on the afternoon, totaling seven kills. Senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman led the team with eight kills.
The Rams connected on 16 more attack attempts, totaling 45 kills in the winning effort. VCU was led by junior outside hitter Kalah Jones and freshman outside hitter Jessica Young, who both finished in double figures in kills. The two combined for 25 total kills on the night.
Ault said her front line was late in reading the Rams attack and getting in position to defend on the net.
“Our block is the first line of defense,” Ault said. “There were times we would go one-on-one with the attacker, but we were late because it was so fast and our hands weren’t up and over at times – that affected us.”
Beyond the first line of defense, GW’s back line also struggled during the match. Junior Jordan Timmer and Newman tallied eight digs apiece to lead the team, but no GW player finished the match in double figures. Junior libero Maddy Doyle finished the match with just four digs.
“Something else that affected us was the back row,” Ault said. “From there, we weren’t tough on contact, and we were still trying to move and figure out where we could go.”
Minimizing errors and maximizing cohesiveness are focuses for the Colonials this week, as well as maintaining energy and communication on the floor.
“We talk about this a lot, every role is important for us on our team. The energy that not only the floor brings, but also the benches is critical, especially when you are on the road because it’s not your fans,” Ault said. “We just need make sure that we have that energy throughout so it puts us in a place where we feel more at home.”
GW continues on the road with a matchup against La Salle on Saturday at 7 p.m.