Volleyball finished a sweep over the weekend, defeating George Mason 3-0 Oct.12 and George Washington 3-1 Sunday afternoon. The Rams (12-7, 7-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) extended their conference winning streak to 23 matches and their overall season winning streak to eight.
Sunday’s match provided additional significance with the presence of three-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor. The announced attendance of 1,134 was the largest home crowd in more than nine years.
VCU brushed off a slow start to the match and despite an uncharacteristic number of service errors, defeated GW 3-1 at the Siegel Center Oct.14.
The teams started the match trading service errors before GW (8-11, 2-4) took a 7-4 lead in the first set. VCU took the set lead for good after a six-point run that started after a kill and block from junior outside hitter Vicky Giommarini and a kill from junior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed.
Junior opposite hitter Gina Tuzzolo proved instrumental in the later stages of the first set with a key block to extend the first set lead to 16-11. She also added three of the Rams’ final four points to win the set.
“G-money — her nickname — was on fire,” Sneed said. “I love it when they give [Tuzzolo] the ball because her heavy arm, when she terminates the ball, there’s this great energy that comes after it.”
VCU started the second set in a 4-1 hole before battling back and taking the lead aided by a key block from senior middle blocker Tori Baldwin. On the next rotation, Sneed followed Baldwin’s lead with a block of her own. The successive pair of blocks sparked an extended VCU run that flipped the second set score from 7-7 to 22-12.
“I think they play a game with each other where if one gets one, the other has to get one too,” said head coach Jody Rogers of her middle blockers. “They complement each other so well and they really feel for each other and they support each other. The middles pick each other up and it exudes confidence when they play like that on the court.”
VCU dominated the net all afternoon as four players recorded at least five blocks — Sneed led the way with nine. For the match, the Rams out-blocked the Colonials 16-5 and held them to a .007 hitting percentage while forcing 36 attack errors.
Tuzzolo led the offensive attack with 10 kills and is the fourth Ram in consecutive matches to lead in kills.
“Today was a really fun match,” Tuzzolo said. “Our offense is so balanced and I think that’s one thing our team is good at and what makes it so hard to defend us. You know where the ball is going. We don’t have one or two go-to players, everyone is a go-to player.”
Volleyball continued to roll Friday night, defeating George Mason 3-0 at the Siegel Center. The victory extended VCU’s conference winning streak to 22 matches and its overall season winning streak to seven.
The Rams (11-7, 6-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) received an early spark after an emphatic kill by Baldwin and a key block by Sneed. VCU jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead over GMU (6-10, 4-2). During the first set, the Rams had three different runs of at least four points and three different players recorded at least two kills.
“We play as a team,” Baldwin said. “We are always looking to have each other’s backs to be there when we are needed.”
The second set was a back-and-forth affair, with VCU never leading by more than two points, until a block by Sneed — VCU’s first for the set — extended the set lead to 15-12. After trading a few more points, VCU ended the set on a 7-1 run with six points coming off of serves from junior setter Dajah Ard.
During the second set alone, VCU forced GMU into 13 unforced errors and 31 errors in total for the match.
“Our main thing was to take them out of their offense,” said head coach Jody Rogers. “We served them hard to not allow them to get into a rhythm and that was our game plan. The kids did a great job with that tonight and you can’t ask for more.”
VCU picked up the third set where it left off in the second, starting with a 7-1 run and never looked back. During the run, Tuzzolo sparked the team by chasing down an errant pass out of bounds to get the ball back in play as Baldwin finished off with the kill.
“Oh, it was awesome,” Baldwin said of Tuzzolo’s effort. “As a team we fed off that and just continued to roll.”
The Rams take their act on the road next weekend with matches against the Rhode Island Oct. 19 and Fordham Oct. 21.