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Women’s volleyball beats Dayton for first time in 11 years

Senior outside hitter Rachael Goss spikes the ball in a match earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster
Senior outside hitter Rachael Goss spikes the ball in a match earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

This post was written by contributing sports editor Sean Hurd

For the first time in 11 seasons, the women’s volleyball team was able to knock off Dayton, last year’s Atlantic 10 champions, in a four-set match.

But to call this match an upset would be knocking a GW (12-11, 7-2 A-10) team who held a stronger conference record over the Dayton (10-12, 4-6 A-10), at the start of Friday’s match despite perceivably entering the match as underdogs.

The Colonials answered the call by holding the Dayton attack to .154 on the night, having two GW players record double doubles, and having three players record double digits in digs and kills respectively

“Watching tonight’s match and seeing what we did and how we executed, I’m extremely happy with what I saw,” said head coach Amanda Ault, whose team has gone 2-0 since their defeat against Duquesne last Friday. “I can go across the board, and everybody took care of their job tonight.”

Entering the match, the Flyers led the entire country in blocks per set, averaging three stops on the pin in every game played. Friday, the Flyers maintained that average, tallying 13.5 blocks on the night. But even when Dayton did what they do best, they were unable to stop a Colonials team that found ways to counter their blocking presence through smart plays of their own.

“We knew that they were a big blocking team,” Ault said. “If we can get it passed their front line, then we can be successful. We know we’re going to see a big block, we need to take care of that first ball contact so that Emily can have options.”

The Colonials approached that task with great creativity and they did it from the very start. With the match 6-5, Emily Clemens on a second hit, set the ball to the left side of the net where a charging Rachael Goss was met at the net by Dayton blocking duo Megan Campbell and Isolde Hannan. As Goss approaches the net, she changes pace delays her jump and intuitively tips the ball out of the reach of the Dayton tandem, surprising the rest of the Flyers on the floor as the ball fell to the net.

“The tips started working for us in set one,” Ault said. “It was something where we said ‘hey, if this is going to work then we need to use it to our advantage until they take it away.”

Goss would finish the night with a double-double, 16 kills and 15 digs, while freshman setter Emily Clemens set a new career high with 52 assists in the four set win.

The intellectual attack play of Goss and the other GW attackers was balanced by the strong play of junior Kelsey Newman who led all players with 21 kills. Newman addressed the tough blocking presence on the Dayton side.

“It was harder in the back row I know, we had a triple block on us, so that was tough,” said Newman who also tied sophomore Maddy Doyle for the most digs on the night with 17. “In the back row I just kept swinging as hard as I could. I didn’t want to go lightly and start tipping or anything and hold back. Whatever was working I just kept sticking with it.

Newman, who had never experienced a victory over Dayton while at GW, said it was a special game for her, and the four other Colonials who were in the same situation.

“They’ve been champs for how long now?” said Newman, who had circled Friday’s match before the start of A-10 play. “We’ve never beat them, even on our home court. For the majority of our team, that was the biggest game for us.”

The Colonials return to the Smith Center tomorrow when they play Duquesne at 7 p.m.

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