The Georgetown women’s volleyball team (13-12, 3-6 Big East) entered this past weekend looking to make a major statement against the elite programs of the conference. The Hoyas took on the two teams tied for first in the Big East – Louisville (14-5, 8-1 Big East) and No. 23 Cincinnati (20-4, 8-1 Big East). They had a prime opportunity to position themselves as one of the top eight teams to qualify for the conference tournament at Pittsburgh Nov. 19 to 21.
After transportation difficulties left them temporarily stranded at BWI Airport Sunday night, Georgetown finally returned to campus, in a word, humbled.
GEORGETOWN 1, LOUISVILLE 3
The Hoyas’ mini-road trip began against Louisville on Friday night where they looked to avenge last season’s Senior Day defeat at the hand of the Cardinals. While Georgetown remained close throughout a tight first set, they found themselves continuously playing from behind after dropping the match’s opening four points. The Blue and Gray finally caught up and forced a tie at 16, eventually earning a 20-18 lead. Cardinal errors allowed the Hoyas to maintain their narrow advantage and eventually take a hard-fought first set, 25-21. Consecutive kills from senior outside hitter Kortney Robinson and redshirt freshman middle blocker Annalee Abell secured the set for the Hoyas.
After a neck-and-neck first set in which sloppy play was characteristic of both squads, Louisville was able to fine-tune its play and minimize mistakes throughout the rest of the match. The Hoyas were not nearly as successful in their own endeavors.
“Louisville had this one player, [outside hitter] Lola [Arslanbekova], who was around 6 foot 4, 6 foot 5 and was just hitting over us all night,” junior setter Ashley Malone said. “She was hard to stop, and we could not get hands in front of her. She messed with us all night, and we could not counter defensively. They were the hardest-hitting, highest-hitting team that we have faced so far, and we just had a really tough time.”
Georgetown failed to reach a team hitting percentage of .100 in any of the three remaining sets, all of which Louisville took handily (14-25, 15-25, 18-25). Despite jumping out to an early advantage, the Hoyas watched another potential Big East win slip away – one they really could have used.
Positive takeaways from the match for the Blue and Gray were the play of senior middle blocker Vanessa Dorismond and freshman outside hitter Brooke Bachesta as each posted 11 kills. The 12 kills and .526 recorded by Abell were team highs. Malone contributed 37 assists in a losing effort.
GEORGETOWN 0, CINCINNATI 3
Georgetown looked to rebound on Sunday when they traveled to Ohio to face No. 23 Cincinnati – a perennial powerhouse and the only nationally ranked team on their schedule. Despite the disappointment from two days prior, the Hoyas were confident heading into their match against the Bearcats thanks to a shocking 3-0 upset win they enjoyed over them at McDonough Arena a year ago. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gray did not have any tricks up their sleeve this year at Fifth Third Arena and suffered the wrath of a vengeful and extremely talented Cincinnati squad.
Simply put, the opening set did not go Georgetown’s way. The Bearcats were overpowering from the onset, handing the Hoyas their worst margin of defeat in a set this season, 10-25. Strong play from Cincinnati persisted in the second set, and the Hoyas suddenly found themselves in a very deep 0-2 hole, losing 17-25 in the second set. Georgetown tightened things up and came out strong to open up the third set, jumping out to a 4-2 advantage on four kills. The set remained close up until a 9-9 stalemate, after which Cincinnati resumed its dominance and finished off the match with a third set score of 16-25.
“Going into the match, we honestly felt that we could play with them, and there were spurts that you could tell that we were,” Malone said. “The problem with us has been our inconsistency. At some point, say, our passing will be down, and then as soon as we get that back on track, we will start to make a lot of hitting errors. We just cannot have that. We need to be consistent and even-keeled so that we know what we are going to get each match.”
Robinson and Bachesta combined for 16 kills, while freshman middle blocker Elizabeth Riggins contributed six of her own. Malone posted 23 assists.
Assistant Coach Jake Lawrence served as acting head coach for the team this past weekend, filling in for Head Coach Arlisa Williams, who is expecting the birth of her second son any day.
Georgetown resumes Big East play at McDonough Arena this weekend. The Hoyas play host to Rutgers at 8 p.m. this Friday on “Dig Pink” night, when the team invites fans to join them in wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness. On Sunday, the Blue and Gray welcome Seton Hall for a 2 p.m. matchup; attendees are encouraged to don their Halloween costumes.