Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VOLLEYBALL | Young Talent, Veteran Presence Fuel Hopeful Rebuild

Coming off a subpar 4-25 season, a complete coaching overhaul and a last-place finish in the Big East preseason coaches poll, Georgetown Univerity volleyball was eager to prove itself as a competitive program heading into the 2023 season.

Although there still remains room for much growth for the team, the Hoyas earned their second-best finish in a decade with a 14-16 overall record, propelled by a series of early out-of-conference victories. 

Georgetown struggled to a 5-13 record in a tough Big East conference, but still boasted an all-Big East honoree in graduate right side Peyton Wilhite and two conference all-first-year selections in middle blocker Kamryn Lee-Caracci and setter Emily Wen.

First-year head coach AJ Bonetti said the team flashed considerable potential for growth throughout the season.

“I think there’s a lot more room to grow, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a great start,” Bonetti told The Hoya. “It’s a great baseline.”

Georgetown started the season strong in nonconference play, cruising to a 9-3 record as the team gelled together for a potent offense. The Hoyas earned four straight victories, including three against DMV-wide rivals, before dropping a match to Iona (15-16, 10-8 MAAC). Georgetown then split the next four games before sweeping the Delaware State Tournament. The Hoyas took this momentum into Big East play.

Wilhite, junior outside hitter Mary Grace Goyena and junior libero Karis Park impressed early on, providing a solid veteran presence for the Hoyas to build upon. The 2023 recruiting class also proved valuable, earning consistent playing time and starting chances early in the season.

Bonetti said the team’s commitment to pregame preparations helped provide the necessary spark for the run.

“Everyone on the team had their role and their place, and it was really, really good to allow them to showcase that every day in practice because they were getting pushed,” Bonetti told The Hoya. “Not just on game days, but also the Mondays and the Tuesdays of the week, just as much as they were on the Fridays and Saturdays of games.”

GUHoyas | Coming into the season with a young squad, Georgetown volleyball turned in a promising performance in what hopes to be the start of a program turnaround.

Georgetown proceeded to win two of its first three conference games before dropping two decisions via reverse sweeps against Xavier University (18-12, 11-7 Big East) and Providence College (9-21, 3-15 Big East). The two losses started a 15-game streak in which the Hoyas struggled to keep pace with Big East rivals, winning three games in the stretch.

Although the Hoyas struggled against stronger competition, the team had plenty of highlights to celebrate. Wen made an immediate impact as a first-year player, accruing over 1,000 assists in the season. Park also passed a personal milestone with 1,000 career digs, further cementing her role as a key cog of the Georgetown defense.

Spring presents an opportunity for Bonetti and assistant coaches Noel Carpio and Jane Hays to work with the Hoyas more closely on individual development. The staff plans on working primarily on expanding players’ skill sets and developing a more resilient team identity.

“We’re really excited to get a full spring season with them, not just the freshmen but the returners as well. Everyone is going to be learning a couple of new tips and tricks to add to their toolboxes,” Bonetti said.

“Overall, I think we need to learn as a team just how to compete in pressure situations, and it’s really tough to try and simulate that, especially with the eight-hour block to start,” Bonetti added. “But we are going to do our darndest to do it.”

The 2024 recruiting class will present another opportunity for the Hoyas to load up on talent. Four current high school seniors are committed to the Hoyas for next year: outside hitter Dionna Mitchell, middle blocker Berkeley Ploder, setter Natalie Nguyen and setter Juleigh Urbina.

“We’re very excited about who we have coming in. We have some players that are going to step in early and really compete for time,” Bonetti said. “But at the end of the day, I love the squad that we have right now, and I think it’s going to be a battle, and I’m excited to see the battle come August when those kids get in here for report time.”

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