This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kimberly Shi.
After their win against La Salle on Friday, the Colonials were pumped up to clinch another victory. However, an easy win was not on the horizon.
Freshman Alexis Huntey stepped in at the setter position for the second game in a row. And with a freshman setter in, “everything had to be more basic,” head coach Amanda Ault said, requiring the entire team to come together to maintain possession and the Colonials’ hitters to stay focused on an aggressive attack.
“We knew we had to be really clean,” senior Lauren Whyte said. “Beating La Salle on Friday, with this being [Huntley’s] debut setting, which she did an awesome job, we were really pumped up. We knew that Temple only had one loss in the A-10, we wanted to give them their second loss. This is the only time we get to play them this year, and probably the last time forever since they’re leaving the A-10.”
Still, despite the momentum heading into the game, it was a slow start on Sunday against Temple. The two teamsbattled back and forth, until the score was at 20-18 Temple, and GW called a timeout, needing a new defensive plan against Temple’s server, Tiffany Connaster. Temple came out on top 27-25 in the first set, with attack errors and a yellow card handed to assistant coach Ryan Freeburg hampering GW’s performance.
Coming back with a huge win in the second set 25-18, the Colonials were on the rise. With nine assists coming from Huntey and an overall attack percentage of .371 to Temple’s .206, the tables were turning. Temple and GW were tied at 1-1.
“I wanted to make sure my hitters got a single block or an opportunity to get a kill,” Huntey said. “We knew our game plan, and we were in the right spots.”
But in the third set, the teeth clenching began. With the Colonials taking the lead, Temple inched its way back into the picture. In a back-and-forth battle with only one point separating the two teams, it was kills from Huntey, sophomore Kelsey Newman and Whyte, assists from senior Candace Silva-Martin, and blocks from junior Jamie Armstrong and sophomore Landon Garvik that squeezed the Colonials out on top. Match point for GW came at 30-28.
“We knew we just came off of a huge win, off the second set, and volleyball is such a game of momentum, we knew we needed to keep the momentum going into the third game,” Whyte said. “I think we did a really good job of staying steady, we passed well, and put the ball up for [Huntey}, and she did a great job feeding our hitters.”
After a strong third set, the Colonials couldn’t continue their play, falling short in the fourth set fell short with Temple taking over 25-20. Attack errors and service errors punctured GW’s plays, and several balls hit the net or volleyed out of bounds, giving points to Temple.
It was tough being down in the fourth, Newman said, but at the same time, it was a good motivator for the Colonials.
“The fourth set got away from us, “ Ault said. “Mentally we fell off, and we need to change that going into the fifth set.”
With both the game and their three-match win streak on the line, it was a fight to the finish. The Owls jumped out to an 8-4 lead, but GW fought back, using a scoring run to pull ahead 11-9.
From there, the two teams exchanged points until victory came with the final kill from Newman, ending the game 15-12.
“I really wanted to put it down,” Newman said. “Our coaches told us to be really tricky with shots and tips. I thought it was a really smart play. It definitely worked.”
The game saw a season-high 13 team blocks, as well as three players post double-doubles: Whyte, with 26 kills and 24 digs, Newman, with 23 kills and 18 digs, and Huntey, with 51 assists and 17 digs.
“Overall, I think we did a really good job on defense for front row and back row,” Ault said. “ The defenders tightened it up, making big games at the end of the game.”
This article was updated Oct. 14, 2012 to reflect the following:
Based on an incorrect press release, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Temple took a 7-4 lead in the fifth set. It was 8-4.