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By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Volleyball skids to an eight-game losing streak

Anthony Peltier | Photographer
The Colonials took an early lead in the first set, but the game got away from the team with seven errors in the second set.

Volleyball dropped both games at the Dig the District Invitational last weekend, falling into an eight-game slide against Loyola University Maryland and Maryland Eastern Shore.

The Colonials (0-8) conceded all three sets to the Greyhounds (8-3) Friday, narrowly losing the first set in a 22–25 shootout. GW then fell to the Hawks (3-6) a day later in a hard fought five set affair, surrendering the final set 15–11.

“Our biggest takeaway is there’s still work to do in regards to our confidence,” Head Coach Sarah Bernson said. “We have moments and we just got to get the monkey off our back. Last spring was such a mentally challenging season for us and even though we had injuries and people are back, we’re still carrying some of that angst and feeling in matches.”

The Colonials swung for a .029 attack percentage tallying 20 kills but were ultimately unable to match the Greyhounds’ .270 attack percentage. Sophomore opposite Liv Womble nabbed a team-leading seven kills and swung a .136 clip on the night. Freshman outside hitter Salem Yohannes followed closely behind with six kills and a .031 attack percentage.

Bernson said the team has improved in the span of the weekend invitational but are still looking into linking plays together. She said the team was forced to hit in many situations but are looking into using the scout to perfect conference play.

“And it’s about using the scout to at least give us a higher chance of winning, lowering our errors in those situations and being super smart with those shots, when things are very singular in the options that we have,” Bernson said. “So being better with that will help us better overall.”

In the first set, the Colonials leapt out to a 4–1 lead thanks to a series of attack errors by the Greyhounds. But Loyola scored four unanswered points to retake the lead. Both teams traded points back and forth until the Greyhounds unleashed a 7–0 scoring run to go up 16–9. The Colonials clawed their way back but the Greyhounds were able to seal away the set 25–22.

Freshman opposite MC Daubendiek said despite the loss, there’s “potential” for the team to grow.

“I think that the overall team feeling was that we were very competitive, and I think that that competitiveness may have turned into frustration, but we really still all wanted it,” Daubendiek said. “We wanted it together.”

The game got away from the Colonials in the second set as the team racked up seven errors and swung at a -.042 attack percentage. Loyola dominated through an 18–4 scoring run, bolstered by a string of seven attack errors from GW. Junior outside hitter Megan Bukala notched three service aces to close out the set for the Greyhounds 25–7.

The Colonials battled throughout the first half of the third set, holding the Greyhounds to 15–10 until they scored five unanswered points before a service error ended the streak. GW continued to battle, capitalizing on a handful of Loyola errors but it was not enough to overcome the deficit as they remained behind at 25–16.

“I think they got some blocks early, but I think that the hitting errors came more in the third set and that was when we were asking them to be more aggressive,” Bernson said. “So part of that is that’s the edge of the knife is when you’re trying to get go aggressive and we have to explore what that looks for us.”

The team managed to take Maryland Eastern Shore to five sets on Saturday but fell to the Hawks, losing by four points in the final set.

Junior middle blocker Addie Feek set a new career-high with 11 kills while freshman outside hitter Salem Yohannes tied a career-high with 18 kills. Senior setter Lauren LaBeck also racked up 29 assists on the afternoon to lead the Colonials to a season-best showing with 53 kills in total.

LaBeck and Yohannes also tallied 23 and 19 digs respectively to help push the game into five sets.

Maryland Eastern Shore racked up 18 kills in the first set, striking at a .389 hitting percentage to take the set. The Colonials managed to stymie the Hawks’ offense in the second set, allowing just 11 kills and forcing nine attack errors. GW generated 10 kills of their own and notched four service aces to tie the match up at one all.

In the third set, GW bested the Hawks’ offense with a hitting percentage of .256 and 15 kills, allowing the Colonials to hold a four-point lead at 14–10. Both teams began to trade points throughout the rest of the set, but a trio of kills and an ace by the Hawks at 23-22 gave Maryland Eastern Shore the set advantage yet again.

The Colonials took an early 11-5 lead in the fourth set, boosted by a string of five kills and a pair of attack and service errors. The Hawks cut the lead to just two points but remained behind throughout the set until a kill by Yohannes and a duo of errors allowed the Colonials to force a fifth and final set to decide the match.

In the final set, the Hawks jumped out to an early 8–2 lead and were able to battle back to within a point at 12–11 before the Greyhounds put the game to bed.

The Colonials will head down to Morgantown, West Virginia for the Mountaineer Invitational this weekend to wrap up the non-conference slate.

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