This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.
The volleyball team earned a big non-conference win Wednesday against American, knocking off the Eagles in a five-set dogfight.
The win snapped the Eagles’ 14-match win streak, and was an important victory for a Colonials team that dropped a close five-set thriller to Duquesne on Sunday. American’s No. 74 RPI ranking entering the week is higher than any team in the Atlantic 10 conference.
“We knew going into this match that this was going to be a big one for us,” head coach Amanda Ault said. “[American is] an extremely good team and we knew that they are at the top of their conference year after year.”
The teams battled back and forth in the match’s first four sets, with GW responding to American (18-5, 9-0 Patriot League) after the Eagles took a lead in the first and third sets of the match.
In the third set, the Colonials scored just 13 points and hit -.071 percent. Ault said GW allowed the Eagles to go on runs, which equated to American taking a lead that grew as big as 12 points. But GW was able to regroup and earn a game-saving fourth-set win to force a fifth, decisive set.
“I am glad the girls had amnesia after the set, forgot about it and got right back to playing our game in the fourth,” Ault said.
The fifth and final set went down to the wire, with both teams working to minimize errors and read the floor. After GW got out to an early 3-2 lead, back-and-forth play between the two teams would bring the game to an 8-5 Colonials advantage. It was an error-prone serve-receive set for the Eagles, which contributed to GW winning the set 15-13 and cementing the come-from-behind upset.
“Serve-receive was critical, and we spent a lot of time during practice working on it,” Ault said. “Going into this match, we knew they are a really tough serving team and would put it on us, and we needed to be to take care of that first contact.”
The Colonials produced the very performance they needed after recent losses, where they had non-characteristic performances.
Sophomore Chidima Osuchukwu led the team with a game-high 20 kills on the night. She battled through an Eagles defense that entered the match ranked eighth in the nation in opponent hitting percentage and quickly adjusted to her play early on.
“She kind of got into running one thing and they were able to minimize her,” Ault said. “But then she started to move around and do stuff behind and move away from the setter and it really opened her up for the remainder of the sets. That’s a credit to Chi Chi for being able to change and adapt during a match.”
Senior Kelsey Newman tallied 16 kills of her own, while junior setter Jordan Timmer posted a game-high 49 assists.
Defensively, the Colonials out-blocked the Eagles 11-8. American won the digs battle 73-68, but GW junior libero Maddy Doyle led all players with a game-high 20 digs. She was one of three Colonials to earn double figures in digs.
GW returns to conference play Friday when they host George Mason.