Women's Volleyball

Loyola Heads to Atlantic 10 Final After Five Set Battle Against George Washington

John KonstantarThe Loyola women's volleyball team secured a spot in the Atlantic 10 championship in its first season with the conference.

The Loyola women’s volleyball team defeated George Washington University 3-2 in the semifinal round of the Atlantic 10 (A-10) tournament Nov. 19, securing a spot in the championship. 

Loyola built an early lead in the first set after kills by junior outside hitters Karlie McNabb and Emily Banitt. Loyola’s offense shined as more players got in on the action with their own kills, with senior outside hitter Addie Barnes and junior middle blocker Kelsey Watson each hitting one. 

Halfway through the first, George Washington’s offense picked up its pace to bring the score within one at 11-10, hitting five kills between its four possessions and picking up a point off a Loyola attack error. 

The Ramblers were able to overcome the Colonials’ scoring outburst with a three-point scoring run with kills by Banitt, Barnes and graduate setter Madi Corey. Loyola continued in its lead with five more kills throughout the rest of the set to finish on top 25-20. 

The second set began similarly to the first, as both teams scored back-and-forth and tied the score four times just in the first six points. Two back-to-back kills from Banitt and a service ace from McNabb began the Ramblers’ rally to create a steady lead. 

From then on, Loyola’s offense controlled the set, ending with 16 kills and a .516 kill percentage, the Ramblers overwhelmed George Washington with its offense and the Colonials weren’t able to overcome it and Loyola won the set 25-21. 

With the Ramblers leading by two sets, they needed one more to seal the win and secure their spot in the final. To start the third, Loyola forced two straight George Washington errors — one on the attack and the other a ball handling error. The Ramblers continued to lead until late in the set when the Colonials came back from a five-point deficit. 

George Washington tied the score at 20 after a five-point scoring run — four kills alone from Salem Yohannes. The Ramblers fought back to tie the score at 23 with kills from Banitt and McNabb but the Colonials took the set after a strong offensive performance. 

In a forced fourth set, Loyola came out hot with three straight kills, two from senior middle blocker Taylor Venuto and one from McNabb. After the Ramblers got the early lead, the set proved to be a physical fight between the teams with a combined 12 errors and Loyola recording a mere .222 hitting percentage. 

The set seemed to be in the Ramblers’ hands until George Washington made a sneaky comeback to tie the score at 23 and 24. With their season on the line, the Colonials took the set after two Loyola attack errors.

George Washington started the fifth set with two attack errors, giving Loyola another early lead. Shortly after, Loyola went on a four-point scoring run with a service ace from Corey and kills from Barnes, Banitt and McNabb. 

A combination of Loyola’s offense and defense brought the set to a swift end. Venuto hit a solo block followed by a service ace from Barnes to put the Ramblers two points away from the win. The set and match were secured after a kill from Banitt and McNabb. 

The Ramblers continue to the A-10 championship game against the winner of Davidson College and Dayton University Nov. 20. First serve is scheduled at 12 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ESPN+.

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