Aug. 27, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC -- The 2009 Volleyball season gets underway Friday when the Colonials face Georgetown in the second match of the DC Challenge. The GW-GU match will take place at George Mason University's Recreation Athletic Complex gym on the Fairfax, VA, campus beginning at 7 p.m. Live audio of the GW-Georgetown match can be heard at www.GWsports.com.
Saturday's four matches all take place at American's Bender Arena beginning with the GW-American match at 1 p.m. GW also faces George Mason at 5 p.m. at AU. Fans can watch the GW-American match live in streaming video at http://aueagles.tv. A one-time fee of $5.95 is required.
Now in its fourth 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 with a perfect 3-0 record. Last year, GW posted a 2-1 record in the Challenge defeating George Mason and American before dropping its final match to the Hoyas. In 2007, the GW-AU match at Bender Arena featured the largest crowd to watch a college volleyball match in the District of Columbia, 1,516 spectators.
GW has the advantage in the all-time series against each of the three local rivals. The Colonials are 9-5 against American, 27-8 against George Mason and enjoys a narrow 32-28 edge in the heated rivalry with Georgetown. All three series date back to the 1975 season, the first year of varsity volleyball at GW.
All nine 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).
Fans can watch the video by clicking on the Watch link in the All Events box or click on the Audio Video link at the lower left corner of the website's main page and follow the instructions for "GW All-Access." The service begins Oct. 2 when GW hosts Rhode Island in an Atlantic 10 Conference match at 7:00 p.m. (EDT).
Subscribers will be able to view the matches live from an elevated camera position. Combined with the GameTracker live stats service, fans can not only watch the video but also have live up-to-the-minute score and statistical updates as well.
In order to enjoy "GW All-Access," the subscriber needs to be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or 7.0 and Microsoft Silverlight on the following systems: Microsoft Windows XP Home / Professional SP2, Windows XP Media Center 2005, and Windows 2000 SP4. Broadband connection and a processor of 1.2 Ghz or greater, and 1 gig of RAM is recommended.
For Mac users, the service is compatible with Safari 2 and Microsoft's Silverlight plugin. For questions about the audio/video service or your account, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2009 Season Outlook
George Washington volleyball in 2009 will feature several new faces both on the court and on the sideline. The Colonials return 10 letterwinners -- including five starters -- from a 2008 squad that won the A-10 East Division and qualified for the A-10 Conference Tournament for the second straight year. New to the team will be six newcomers as well as a trio of assistant coaches. "I'm excited about starting an entirely new chapter of GW volleyball this season," coach Jojit Coronel said. "With an entirely new coaching staff and six freshmen, this year's team will look much different but will be poised to be even better than last year. Despite being short on bodies this past spring, the team learned to deal with adversity and played particularly well. Their training sessions were demanding and will have hopefully prepared them physically and mentally for a short pre-season and difficult schedule."
This year's returning veterans, led by co-captains Leah Hill and Abby Syverson, 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 2009 A-10 Championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Joining Coronel on the sidelines in `09 are former Fordham and Boise State assistant coach Doug English, former American University volunteer assistant, Russ Friedland and former UCLA standout Nikki Jagd.
The setter position figures to be a team strength for the next three seasons with the return of 2008 A-10 Rookie of the Year, Alyssa Valentine. The six-time Conference Rookie of the Week selection averaged 9.30 assists per set while contributing 54 total blocks from the setter spot. "Alyssa will have a handful of scorers to distribute to this fall," Coronel added. "Senior middle hitter Abby Syverson (`06 All-Rookie Team), junior outside hitter Leah Hill (`08 All-Conference second team), junior outside hitter Hannah Stuart, senior opposite Katie Butz, junior middle hitter Katie Zulandt and sophomore middle hitter MacKenzie Knox are expected to be our main guns this fall. Also expecting to make an immediate impact are freshmen outside hitter Lauren Whyte and libero Candace Silva-Martin. Returnees Anna Iofin, Alex Coward and newcomers Brianna DeBrock, Christine Graf, Coca O'Donnell and Erika Videtto will help solidify depth in every position as well as make us extremely competitive." Senior Madelyn Bagby will spend her final season mentoring the young setters as a student assistant following an injury-plagued playing career.
Syverson was an Atlantic 10 Conference All-Rookie Team selection as a freshman in 2006 and is joined by Zulandt and Knox. Syverson gained some international experience as part of a U.S. team in the Global Volleyball Challenge Tournament played July 20-24, 2008 in Croatia. Zulandt played admirably last season while Knox was sidelined with a stress fracture in her lower left leg. "Katie is a strong athlete who is a fierce defender and puts up an imposing block," Coronel said. Knox, a high school teammate of Valentine, had an abbreviated her freshman season due to the stress fracture and spent the summer rehabilitating and strengthening. "Our goal for MacKenzie is to keep her healthy and injury free. We're excited to welcome back her cmpetitive spirit and the `heavy ball' she brings to our offense," said Coronel. DeBrock and O'Donnell bring size and tenacity to the team and will compete immediately for playing time.
After losing All-Conference performer Liz Moult to graduation, the outside hitter positions are in good hands with Butz, Hill and Stuart. All three have experience and have improved dramatically since stepping into the lineup last season with Hill garnering second-team All-Conference accolades. Coronel believes Whyte will compete for considerable playing time as a freshman. The 2008 Ohio Player of the Year led her high school team to the state championship and was voted to the 2008-09 High School All-America Team. Coward and Videtto bring solid ball control and outstanding volleyball IQ.
The Colonials also will be without the A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year in graduated co-captain Maggie Wright who was a three-year starting libero after making the transition from setter in 2005. A trio of freshmen, led by Silva-Martin, along with Iofin and Graf will compete for the starting libero spot as well as the traveling defensive specialist.
GW will spend the first month of the season on the road while the second phase of a three-phase, multi-million dollar renovation to Smith Center is completed. "This is, by far, the toughest schedule I've put together since I've been here," Coronel said. The Colonials begin non-conference play for the fourth straight year in the DC Challenge, Aug. 28-29, against local rivals Georgetown, American and George Mason. GW then faces three BCS conference teams when it competes in the Diet Coke Classic at Minnesota Sept. 4-5. The Colonials play Iowa State and Auburn in addition to the host Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. The tournament will serve as a homecoming for Syverson who hails from the twin cities.
The Colonials then travel to the Villanova Invitational near Philadelphia to face the Wildcats along with Princeton and UMBC, Sept. 11-12. GW also competes in the Towson Invitational Sept. 18-19 against Ball State, Penn and the host Tigers.
The Colonials open A-10 play with a two-match road swing beginning Sept. 25 at La Salle before facing Temple two days later. GW will christen the newly-renovated Smith Center on Oct. 2 when Rhode Island comes to DC. The Colonials visit defending A-10 champion Saint Louis Oct. 9. Charlotte will be across the net for Senior Day on Sunday, Nov. 8 before wrapping up the regular season in Dayton, site of the 2009 A-10 Championship, Nov. 20-22.
"We will again start the season in the DC Challenge, which is always a tough season-opening tournament," Coronel said. "American, Georgetown and George Mason are much improved and, like us, are trying to establish themselves as the best team in DC. Our next tournament is at Minnesota where we will play teams from the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. These matches will definitely boost our RPI rankings. Once we return, we have two more challenging tournaments at Villanova and at Towson. The caliber of play will be fierce and will be a great springboard for the start of our 2009 Atlantic 10 Conference campaign."
ATLANTIC 10 FORMAT CHANGE FOR 2009
In 2009, the Atlantic 10 Conference will undergo a format change whereby all 10 teams will compete in one division as opposed to the East / West alignment of previous years. Each team will play 15 conference matches with six round-robin opponents and three single matches against the remaining A-10 schools. "Our league schedule will be even tougher this season as we play perennial powerhouses Dayton and Xavier twice," Coronel added. "This should improve our RPI and, hopefully, get a minimum of three teams into the NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament."