GW Volleyball Clinches DC Challenge Title With Five-Set Thriller Over Georgetown

The Colonials tied their best start to a season since 2003 and completed the D.C. sweep with Tuesday's victory over Georgetown.

Sept. 13, 2011

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WASHINGTON - In front of a frenzied Charles E. Smith Center crowd, the George Washington volleyball team twice rallied from a set down to stun district rival Georgetown and clinch the DC Challenge championship on Tuesday night. Set scores were 20-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20, 15-11.

With the victory, GW (10-0) ties its best start to a season since 2003 and completes the D.C. sweep after early season victories over local rivals American, George Mason and Howard. The match was originally scheduled for Aug. 27, but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.

The Colonials' defense limited the Hoyas to .127 hitting to offset a season-low .187 offensive effort and post a dramatic victory to remain undefeated.

Junior Lauren Whyte led all players with 15 kills and freshman Kelsey Newman, the reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, added 14 kills against just three errors in 32 attempts for a .344 attack percentage and 14.5 points.

GW got off to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-20 after 13 ties and five lead changes. The Colonials held leads of 18-16 and 20-19, but the Hoyas rattled off five consecutive points to clinch the first set.

The Colonials rebounded in the second set despite surrendering seven team blocks to the Hoyas. GW was able to tie the match at a set apiece after converting on 69 percent (14-of-20) of sideout point opportunities, with Newman recording five of her kills and freshman Savannah Clark tallying two service aces.

The third set saw a furious Colonials' rally fall just short as the Hoyas pulled away in the final moments, 26-24, to take a 2-1 lead. GW fell behind 9-4 to open the third frame and trailed by as many as 11 points before being faced with set-point at 24-16.

From there, GW mounted a spectacular comeback that saw it fight off set-point eight times to eventually tie the set at 24-24. Sophomore Jamie Armstrong was brilliant from the service line, recording an ace and putting the Hoyas into compromising positions that resulted in errors on several occasions. However, the Hoyas were able break the tie after an Armstrong service error and used an ace from Tory Rezin to clinch the third set. Armstrong finished the match with eight kills against just two errors in 16 attempts (.375) with four block assists, two digs, one assist and once ace for 11 points.

Despite dropping the previous set, the momentum clearly swayed in the Colonials' favor as they turned up the offensive pressure and hit .355, against just two errors, in the fourth set to tie the match with a 25-20 victory. GW recorded 16 sideout points in 20 attempts (80 percent) and forced eight Georgetown (5-5) errors to force a decisive fifth set.

The energy continued to propel the Colonials into the fifth set as they swung a blistering .429 en route to a 15-8 set victory to complete the comeback. Newman recorded five kills in the final set, while Whyte collected three to clinch the DC Challenge Championship and send the 475 fans at Smith Center into a raucous celebration.

Junior Katie Crosby, who entered the match ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and seventh in Division I with 12.10 assists per set, directed the Colonials' attack with 40 assists along with nine digs, three kills, three blocks (one solo, two assists) and one service ace.

Junior Candace Silva-Martin anchored the Colonials' defense with a match-high 16 digs along with three assists, two aces and one kill. Senior MacKenzie Knox registered seven kills and five blocks (one solo, four assists).

GW will head west this weekend to participate in the San Diego Invitational at Jenny Craig Pavilion. The Colonials open the tournament on Friday against Indiana at 8:00 p.m. ET, before facing nationally ranked No. 17 San Diego (3:00 p.m. ET) and UC-Santa Barbara (5:00 p.m. ET) on Saturday.



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