Something had to give on Friday night at the Siegel Center. An anticipated Atlantic 10 volleyball match between VCU and George Mason featured both teams on winning streaks. With reigning Atlantic 10 players of the weeks (Bailey Williams, GMU & Vicky Giommarini, VCU) going head to head the pressure to perform rose a bit come first serve. A 1st place versus 3rd place duel showcased the queens of the A-10 take down another challenger to the throne.
Opening En Garde!
Tori Baldwin scored the first VCU kill of the night as Set 1 began. Dajah Ard and Alyna Draper started well with crucial digs and sets to their VCU teammates for kill attempts. Gina Tuzzolo and Vicky Giommarini went to work with kill after kill putting the Rams ahead early.
George Mason called timeout after VCU scored 4 consecutive points. With attacking errors, a team block by Giommarini and Jasmin Sneed and a service ace by Giommarini, the Rams surged ahead 7-3. Paula Neciporuka added extra firepower from the wing and the Patriots could not defend at the net.
Vicky Giommarini was twice as nice with two service aces in the opening set. Baldwin and Sneed forced multiple attacking errors by the Patriots with blocks. George Mason committed 9 attacking errors in the set and Gina Tuzzolo finished them off with the final VCU kill at 25-19.
Second Round Throw-Down
There was a war in the early moments of Set 2. Both teams went bell to bell with long rallies out the gates for points. With Ard and Draper still digging the Rams out on the court, VCU was able to stay steady with the Patriots on the scoreboard.
The tide started turning Black & Gold after Giommarini tipped the ball over Mason’s defense to retake the lead at 6-5. Tyler Sroufe made a great play for VCU on the following point by saving the ball from VCU’s bench to keep the play alive. A GMU attacking error resulted in VCU winning that rally.
Sroufe set up Julia Adler for her first kill right down the middle for the Rams. George Mason would stay close with kills of their own however VCU was in slay mode. Ard with set-ups for Baldwin and Giommarini and finished them powerfully to keep VCU ahead. Neciporuka collected another kill just before Mason called timeout trailing 21-17.
Attacking errors sprung once again for the visitors with Mason committing two in a row after the timeout. Tuzzolo would hammer down the final pair of Black & Gold kills to win the set 25-18 for VCU.
A Dominate 3rd
Errors and firepower mixed well for the Rams at the start of Set 3. VCU scored 5 consecutive points after George Mason took the opening point. Baldwin started the run with a kill followed by a solo block. After another attacking error by Mason, Baldwin knocked down another kill followed by Giommarini to put VCU up 5-1.
Things would get worse for George Mason as Adler and Tuzzolo jumped into the fray known as VCU’s offense. A timeout was called by the Patriots trailing 3-10 and a team block was the result after play resumed by Baldwin and Sneed.
Cruise control was activated by the leaders of the Atlantic 10. Another scoring run mixed with George Mason stuck in defensive mode had the set well out of a reach. The Patriots did not give up as they worked on chipping down the deficit with life-line kills.
With a 20-9 scoring advantage, VCU let their foot off the gas a tad. George Mason made their move stealing some points off of VCU errors and kills that gave the Patriots hope. A service ace by GMU made it 23-15 but the Rams remained unphased by the change of events.
Sweep Collected / Who’s Next?
A costly service error by Mason’s Marlanna Bozicevich set up the Rams with match point. Sroufe set up Neciporuka from the wing one more time to give VCU the 25-17 win in set 3. VCU won the match 3-0 over George Mason to remain perfect in A-10 play at 6-0 on the season.
Tori Baldwin and Paula Neciporuka co-led the Rams with 9 kills each. Gina Tuzzolo collected 6 kills and 3 blocks on the night. Jasmin Sneed led VCU in blocks with 5 along with 4 kills versus George Mason. Vicky Giommarini had 6 digs, 4 kills, and 2 service aces.
VCU Volleyball returns to A-10 competition on Sunday, October 14th inside the Siegel Center versus George Washington. First serve begins at 1 PM.