Aug. 26, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC -- The 2010 Volleyball season gets underway Friday when the Colonials face rival Georgetown in the opening match of the DC Challenge at 5:00 p.m. The GW-GU match will take place at American University's Bender Arena and will be televised live on RCN Cable TV (Ch. 8 in the District of Columbia).
Now in its fifth year, the DC Challenge pits four local teams: GW, American, George Mason and Georgetown in a round-robin format. The Colonials won the inaugural DC Challenge in 2006, and also won last year's Challenge, with perfect 3-0 records. Last year, GW defeated GU, 3-2; AU, 3-1 and George Mason, 3-0. GW has an all-time mark of 9-3 in DC Challenge matches. Against the DC Challenge field, the Colonials own a 33-28 advantage in the all-time series with Georgetown. GW is 10-5 against American and 28-8 against George Mason.
The DC Challenge resumes on Saturday but switches venues to George Mason University's Recreation Athletic Complex gym on the Fairfax, VA, campus.
Saturday's four matches all take place at GMU beginning with the GW-American match at 11 a.m. GW also faces George Mason at 7 p.m. Live statistical updates of all GW home matches, and several road matches, will be available at www.GWsports.com.
All 10 of GW's home matches this season can be viewed live online via video streaming at www.GWsports.com anywhere in the world for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95 (or $79.95 for a yearly subscription that includes all GW's men's and women's basketball home games as well as several road games and GW home gymnastics meets).
Fans can watch the video by clicking on the Audio Video link at the lower left corner of the website's main page and follow the instructions for "GW All-Access."
2010 SEASON OUTLOOK
George Washington volleyball in 2010 will feature several new faces both on the court and on the sideline. The Colonials return nine letterwinners -- including four starters -- from a 2009 squad that qualified for the A-10 Conference Tournament for the third straight year. New to the team will be seven newcomers as well as a pair of new staff members.
"This is really an entirely new team," head coach Jojit Coronel says. We have a great nucleus of players returning from last season who will serve as great leaders, mentors and examples to our seven newcomers."
This year's returning veterans, led by co-captains Leah Hill
and Katie Zulandt
, have set their sights high and are determined to build on their success from last season and expect to be in position to win the 2010 A-10 Championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Joining Coronel on the sidelines in `10 are Ahen Kim
, a former assistant at Catholic University and local club coach, and former American University All-America outside hitter, Rubena Sukaj
. "Kim's passion and knowledge of the game will help us immediately," Coronel said. "He will be working with our outside-hitters and defensive players and he will be responsible for our video and statistics programs. We're fortunate to have someone like Rubena on our staff this season. Her experience and her closeness in age to our players enable her to relate to them as well as share with them how important this time is as a college athlete and student."
The setter position suffered a surprise blow when 2008 A-10 Rookie of the Year, Alyssa Valentine, annouced plans to transfer. However, with the addition of a transfer from the Pacific-10 Conference and a solid incoming freshman, the setter spot appears, once again, to be in good hands.
"A huge change for us this season is the arrival of two outstanding setters in Katie Crosby and Hayley Woodford," Coronel said. "After losing one of the better setters in the A-10 after last season, Katie and Hayley will both vie for the starting position and considerable playing time this fall. Fortunately, both setters are extremely competitive and are excellent leaders on and off the court. Katie has a stunning resume and has trained and competed at the highest levels. She is expected to make an immediate impact using her height (6-foot), experience and ability to locate the ball to make us even better this fall." She was the back-up setter at Arizona State as a freshman last season. Crosby will have stiff competition from Woodford who is intense, physical and extremely competitive. Both will battle and force each other to become the best setters they can possibly be while elevating the game of their teammates.
With the loss of some key seniors, our offense will have to be even more balanced this fall," Coronel said. "Fortunately, Leah Hill (`08 All-Conference second team), Lauren Whyte (`09 All-Rookie team) and Hannah Stuart have the experience and confidence to handle that responsibility. Junior Alex Coward (46 aces) will make a difference this fall not only as a serving specialist but also as an opposite. She had a productive spring and will be expected to raise her level of play as well as her consistency. Freshman Rachel Goss will be in the mix as well. Her ball control and athleticism will be much needed on the court. For the first time in her career, junior MacKenzie Knox (team-high .386 attack pct.) will enter the fall season injury-free. Plagued with injuries prior to, and during her last two seasons, Knox will be looked upon as one of the squad's offensive threats in serve receive and in transition. Sophomore Brianna DeBrock will help solidify depth at every position.
The Colonials return A-10 All-Rookie team performer Candace Silva-Martin, along with sophomore Christie Graf, at the libero spot. Silva-Martin led the A-10 in assists per set last season with 5.11 while Graf is the traveling defensive specialist.
Among the seven new players this fall, Coronel singled out Rachel Goss whose athleticism and ball control will be a plus. Jamie Armstrong is an excellent volleyball player with plenty of upside. Coronel calls Armstrong "one of the most coachable kids we've recruited in a long time," and adds, "she is sneaky good as an attacker and is very efficient as a blocker by making the correct choices." Woodford will be battling for considerable playing time and Hillary DeCarl is a smooth defensive player with good instincts and outstanding touch on the ball. Coronel sees DeCarl playing at outside hitter but is also looking at her in a defensive role. MacKenzie Knox's younger sister, Taylor, joins the Colonials this season as does Jessica Burr. Coronel envisions the younger Knox as an opposite-side hitter while Burr will work out at hitter and as a defensive specialist.
The Colonials begin non-conference play for the fifth straight year in the DC Challenge, Aug. 27-28, against local rivals Georgetown, American and George Mason. GW then competes in three tournaments at Virginia, Cleveland State and at defending national champion Penn State. The Colonials open A-10 play beginning Sept. 25 at home against Charlotte and end the regular season on Nov. 14 when Xavier comes to DC for Senior Day. Xavier will host the 2010 A-10 Championship, Nov. 19-21, in Cincinnati.
"It's always difficult when you start the year competing against cross-town rivals," Coronel added. "Playing three-time National Champion Penn State will be a memorable event. The rest of our preseason will prepare us for a more balanced A-10 slate. I believe the league title is up for grabs this season and I'm looking forward to the start of conference play. With the non-conference schedule we've put together, we expect to be fresh and even more focused once conference play begins."