After last weekend’s tough road trip against the Big East’s top two squads, the volleyball team (14-13, 4-7 Big East) returned to McDonough Arena for a much-needed Halloween home stand. With the postseason just weeks away, the Hoyas were looking for a big weekend to snap their four-game losing streak and propel them to an improved seeding in the conference standings.
On Friday, the Blue and Gray welcomed Rutgers (10-14, 2-8 Big East) for “Dig Pink” night. The match was a must-win for the Hoyas, as their hopes to rise up the Big East standings rest on their ability to beat conference cellar-dwellers like the Scarlet Knights. A win would also have gone a long way toward avenging the 3-0 shellacking Rutgers gave them a year ago.
Georgetown opened the first set with sloppy play, which has been the common denominator in their recent conference woes. After a series of errors saw them down 13-7, the Hoyas went on a run, winning eight of the next nine points to knot the set at 15. The visitors committed an error in the ensuing point, giving Georgetown a lead they would not relinquish in a 25-21 opening set win.
Junior setter Ashley Malone recorded 12 assists, four kills and three digs in the set to start what would be a sensational all-around match performance.
Georgetown and Rutgers were neck-and-neck early in the second set, but timely kills from senior middle blocker Vanessa Dorismond slowly created breathing space for the Blue and Gray. After a Dorismond kill broke a 9-9 tie, the Hoyas took advantage of Scarlet Knight errors to pull away. At 24-19, Dorismond ended the set with a kill, one of her team-high 13 on the match, and gave the Hoyas a commanding 2-0 advantage.
The third and fourth sets saw a more resilient Rutgers squad take the floor, as the Hoyas were unable to go on the kinds of runs that had won them the previous two sets. Georgetown has had major struggles with consistency since opening Big East play this season and, despite strong play in the opening sets, could not keep their inconsistency demons buried for an entire match. The Blue and Gray certainly had their chances, as the third and fourth sets were tied at 24 and 23, respectively, but were simply unable to close the match. Georgetown was now in all-too-familiar territory – a pivotal fifth set.
“Rutgers certainly played a lot better in games three and four,” Assistant Coach Jake Lawrence said. “Our momentum never really struggled, it was really more our execution – we stopped making a couple plays here and there and we let up a couple easy ones. The good thing was that going into the fifth set, our players weren’t shell-shocked, they weren’t distraught, but they were pretty ticked off and they wanted to make it right.”
Head Coach Arlisa Williams was not available to comment, as she is expecting the birth of her second son any day.
Determined not to suffer a repeat performance of their last home match, when they dropped three straight sets to South Florida after winning the opening two, Georgetown jumped out to a commanding 6-1 advantage in the fifth set. The Scarlet Knights refused to let up, though, as they battled their way to within two points of the Hoyas at 14-12. With the pressure on, senior outside hitter Kortney Robinson came through with her 11th kill of the night to seal the set and match for the Blue and Gray.
Other top performances in the victory came from junior libero Tory Rezin (25 digs) and freshman middle blocker Elizabeth Riggins (eight kills). Malone finished a stellar night with seven kills, 15 digs and 38 assists to go with a .636 hitting percentage.
Georgetown looked to build off of Friday night’s nail-biter when they welcomed Seton Hall (11-15, 5-5 Big East) on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Blue and Gray, any momentum they had built came to a screeching halt against the Pirates, as the Hoyas fell 3-0 in one of their poorer performances of the season. Seton Hall dominated in nearly all aspects of the match, as they out-hit, killed, served and blocked the overwhelmed hosts. The Hoyas did manage to post a solid 44 digs as a team – bettering the Pirates by four in the category. Ultimately, Georgetown, perhaps still mentally and physically exhausted from their down-to-the-wire thriller over Rutgers, simply did not bring their best effort against Seton Hall.
“One of the things we talked about with our players on Friday night after the Rutgers match was that, regardless of the result in the match, we were playing very hard and doing good things,” Lawrence said. “We followed the system really well, which is why we were ultimately able to win out. Sunday could not have been more different. We never found our rhythm and were never able to really establish the things we looked to do – come out and make sure our middle hitters were scoring well and slow down their middle hitters. We didn’t do either.”
Senior outside hitter Samantha Trauth posted a match-high .500 hitting percentage, while Dorismond and sophomore middle blocker Lindsay Wise contributed nine and eight kills, respectively, in the loss.
The Hoyas look to regroup this week in practice before traveling to Storrs, Conn., to take on the UConn Huskies (4-17, 2-8 Big East) on Friday night at 7 p.m. Georgetown will then have a Sunday afternoon matchup at St. John’s (16-11, 3-7 Big East).
“UConn and St. John’s – they are very winnable matches, and they have to be wins,” Lawrence said. “There is no question about that. The players know that. We knew that back in April when the Big East schedule came out, looking at these games and saying `That’s a place where we need to go and get two wins.’ If we take care of business this weekend, we’ll be in great shape for the tournament.”