Down two sets to none, the Georgetown volleyball team (10-6) came storming back to win three straight sets and notched another heart-pumping, five-set victory against University of Maryland, Baltimore County (4-9) Tuesday night in McDonough Arena.
Senior outside hitter Samantha Trauth led the way with 17 kills to go along with 12 digs, while junior setter Ashley Malone recorded 52 assists and a .400 hitting percentage. The surging Hoyas have now won eight of their last nine contests and improved to 3-1 in matches decided in the fifth set.
“This team has displayed a whole lot of fight all year long and we’re just coming together as a group,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “They are just playing with a lot of heart, a lot of energy and a never-say-die attitude. That has been the difference between us winning and losing these matches.”
The Hoyas were set back by nine attack errors and a .028 hitting percentage in the first set, which UMBC took 25-20. The Blue and Gray fought through a very competitive second set that featured seven ties, but the Retrievers pulled away at the end to win again by the same score.
Facing defeat, Georgetown came alive in the third set, hitting .324 and registering 17 kills. In another back-and-forth battle, the resilient Hoyas fought through 10 ties before breaking away late to win the set 25-19.
The Blue and Gray rode their newfound momentum in the fourth set en route to a 25-20 win and came out of the gates quickly in the fifth, surging to a 6-1 advantage. UMBC put a small comeback of their own together to push the set to 10-9; however, the Hoyas rallied one final time and won the final five points of the set to win 15-9 and finish the dramatic comeback.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster for us,” Williams said when asked how the comeback affected team morale. “For us to be able to rebound against UMBC even though we were down 0-2 and come back with some fight and win that match, that just builds our confidence as we go into Big East play. For us to have started off the year at 2-5 and now be 10-6 getting ready to start the heart of our season, I think our players are extremely confident.”
The match marked the fifth time this season that the Hoyas have played a team to the decisive fifth set, and the fourth time they have emerged victorious. Narrow victories have been a hallmark of the team’s recent success, as they have consistently shown the grit and determination to come out on top when the pressure is on.
“I think we have found that we are just able to focus better [in those fifth sets],” Trauth said. “We just start to believe in ourselves and our abilities to come back and beat a team. We are more focused on the details – we just picked it up in general.”
This past weekend featured the Georgetown Classic, in which the Hoyas played host to Binghamton (5-9), East Carolina (1-11) and Furman (6-6). Georgetown finished the tournament a solid 2-1, with a hard-fought loss to Furman Saturday afternoon spoiling what would have been the team’s eighth straight win.
The weekend also marked the return of senior middle blocker Vanessa Dorismond, who missed the first 13 games of the season due to a broken left foot suffered during the preseason. Dorismond saw her first action of the season coming off the bench against East Carolina. A key player on last year’s squad, Dorismond re-entered the starting lineup the following game against Furman, recording a staggering 20 kills throughout five sets with a .395 hitting percentage.
“I’ve been working a lot off the court to get my foot back in shape so that I’m ready for these [Big East] games,” Dorismond said. “Now that I’m able to play, we can do different things with the lineup.”
Williams knows the impact that a healthy Dorismond can make and is thrilled by the speed of her recovery, stating that “Vanessa is going to make us much harder to guard.”
The Hoyas face perhaps their toughest challenge of the season tonight when they play host to undefeated Syracuse (16-0) to open Big East play. Match time is 7 p.m. in McDonough Arena.”