Volleyball Opens with a Thriller, Edges Georgetown, 3-2
Aug. 28, 2009
FAIRFAX, VA -- The GW Volleyball team started fast, withstood a Georgetown rally and finished strong in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Hoyas Friday night in the season-opener at George Mason University's new Recreation Athletic Complex gym in Fairfax, VA. Facing a 2-1 deficit, the Colonials rallied to win the fourth and fifth sets and prevail in a match that was closely played throughout by two evenly-matched rivals. GW won by the scores, 25-22, 26-28, 21-25, 25-21, 17-15 in just over two hours. It was another example of vintage GW-GU volleyball in a long history of tense, close matches.
Senior co-captain Leah Hill led the Colonials with 20 points on a match-high 20 kills while hitting .271 with 13 digs. Fellow senior Abby Syverson hit a career-high .734 on 10 kills in 14 swings with no attack errors. Katie Butz added 15 points on 11 kills with four block assists.
The match marked the collegiate debuts for GW freshmen Lauren Whyte and Candace Silva-Martin. Both were impressive first outings on opposite ends of the spectrum. Offensively, Whyte tallied 16.5 points on 15 kills while hitting .300 with while Silva-Martin's defensive prowess was evidenced by her match-high 29 digs. Sophomore setter Alyssa Valentine assisted on 51 of GW's 63 kills and added eight digs.
After racing out to a 17-9 lead and hanging on to capture the first set, 25-22, the Colonials and Hoyas settled into an old-fashioned dogfight in the second set. After tied the set at 26-26 on a kill by GU's Vanessa Dorismond, the Hoyas' Sara Manley served an ace and set up Dorismond for a kill to end the set, 28-26. The third set was tied at 8-8 before Georgetown took advantage of some Colonials errors to take a 20-13 and coasted to the 25-21 win.
Set four was marked by streaky scoring with GW taking a 3-0 lead followed by six straight Hoyas points. With the set tied at 18-18, it was GW's turn to benefit from several Georgetown miscues and take a 23-19 lead en route to the 25-21 triumph and set the stage for the decisive fifth set.
GW took the early lead in the fifth set with a 3-1 lead before the Hoyas began to battle back and forge a 5-3 advantage. The teams traded kills and the set was tied nine times before a Butz kill gave GW a 16-15 lead. The match ended on an attack error by Georgetown's Kortney Robinson.
"We're running a faster offense this year, which I like," GW coach Jojit Coronel said afterward. "It works when we have good ball control but we get into trouble when we don't pass well. Abby [Syverson] Leah [Hill] played well, Hannah [Stuart] came off the bench and contributed and Candace [Silva-Martin] was a stud. We also got some strong serving from Alex Coward."
With the victory, the Colonials increased their lead in the all-time series with Georgetown to 33-28. GW is now 5-5 in season-openers under Coronel.
Georgetown also got a pair of impressive college debuts from freshman setter Ashley Malone (49 assists, 13 digs) and Lindsay Wise (13 kills, .379 attack pct.).
The GW-GU match was the second in the six-match DC Challenge and just the second official competition in GMU's new volleyball facility after the American-GMU match played earlier Friday. The Patriots swept the Eagles, 3-0, in that contest. The DC Challenge is a round-robin tournament that features George Mason and American in addition to the Colonials and Hoyas.
GW (1-0) next plays Saturday at 1:00 p.m. against American (0-1) at AU's Bender Arena before taking on George Mason (1-0) in Saturday's 5 p.m. match.