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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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Colonials drop final game, miss A-10 tournament

Just one win. That’s all the volleyball team needed to clinch its spot in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. A single victory in any one of GW’s final eight games and Sunday’s home game against Xavier wouldn’t have marked the end of the season for the Colonials.

Instead, GW lost to Xavier, like it did against its seven previous opponents before the Musketeers, and found itself in seventh place in the A-10 and without a spot in the conference tournament.

It was a disappointing end to a season that began with such promise for the Colonials. GW (17-15, 6-9 A-10) opened conference play 6-1 and were in second place in the A-10 when it left for a pair of weekend road games in Ohio against Dayton and Xavier. GW lost both games 3-0 and did not win a game for the remainder of the season.

“Yeah, we were good,” senior Leah Hill said. “I think maybe we took a little for granted how far hard work can get you. We only had to win one match, so you go into these games and you’re like, ‘Ok we just need a win,’ but then that becomes ‘Oh we just need a win. Oh we only have five more? We just need a win,’ and four [games left] and three [games left].”

Even with the loss Sunday, GW could have backed into the tournament with season-ending losses from Fordham and Charlotte. But when both the Rams and the 49ers won their final games of the season, the Colonials were officially eliminated from tournament contention.

Even with the knowledge that a win against the Musketeers would have solidified a spot in the A-10 tournament, GW came out flat in the first two sets against Xavier, falling 25-11 and 25-13 to dig itself an early hole.

“Volleyball is a game of momentum and if you have girls on the court who are giving energy, whether they’re communicating or their actions on the court provide energy, it’s easy to block a team’s momentum and get it back on your side,” Colonials head coach Jojit Coronel said. “We had too many girls on the court who were literally just not giving energy on the court. They were actually sucking energy.”

After a team meeting that followed the second set, the Colonials came out firing in the third set. The two teams fought through five lead changes, including one at 24, and the teams traded long volleys back and forth.

The Colonials’ momentum eventually dried up late in the match and Xavier went on to win in extra points, 26-24, but GW looked like a different team in the third set, a difference Coronel said had more to do with pride than a desire to earn a bid to the conference tournament.

“The sense of urgency was to win, not necessarily to get into the A-10s but really to play for pride because we know we stunk the first two games,” Coronel said. “We fought and fought really hard but just couldn’t close the deal, which was really the case a lot of times this year.”

Sunday’s game also had added significance for the Colonials, who celebrated senior day against Xavier. In pregame festivities, the team honored Hill as well as seniors Hannah Stuart and Katie Zulandt. Zulandt, who is second on the team in kills and points and first in blocks and hitting percentage, didn’t play in the final game of her senior season due to a knee injury she sustained in GW’s 3-1 loss at Duquesne Nov. 7. Coronel said not having Zulandt on the court was a major obstacle for the Colonials Sunday.

“The hardest thing was her energy on the court, and we lose her hitting percentage. Hannah [Stuart] did a marvelous job, but Hannah is not Katie,” Coronel said. “Katie’s averaging like two points a game for us with her blocking and her attacking. She provided energy, she was a solid defender at the net. Hannah did an admirable job, she does all the little things, but we lost a lot of point-scoring there.”

With her final season at GW in the books, Hill said she was disappointed with how it ended but was happy with her play, especially in the third set. She won’t be around next season, but Hill said it would be a mistake for her teammates to forget what happened to the team this season.

“I think the lesson to be learned from that is don’t take it for granted,” she said. “Don’t take any opportunity you have to win for granted. There’s not enough time, time is so fleeting and you just kind of gotta go for it. We have to realize that sometimes you have to be a little bit more mentally tough to stick out those five-game matches and it comes down to the culmination of little things that we should have taken care of. Unfortunately, we fell short this year.”

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