After last weekend’s split on the road at Connecticut and St. John’s knocked them out of playoff contention, the Georgetown volleyball team (15-15, 5-9 Big East) returned home to McDonough Arena on Friday night for the final match of its 2010 season against Villanova (23-6, 11-3 Big East). For senior middle blocker Vanessa Dorismond and senior outside hitters Kortney Robinson and Samantha Trauth, it was the final contest of their decorated college careers.
Pre-match spirits were high, as teammates, coaches and fans celebrated Dorismond, Robinson and Trauth on senior night for their contributions to the team over the last four years.
Characteristic of the second half of Georgetown’s season, though, things did not go according to plan on the court as the Wildcats prevailed in straight sets over the Hoyas (25-19, 25-18, 25-22).
The first set opened up with fast, aggressive play from both sides, as strong hitting was quickly neutralized by unrelenting defense on each end. The match’s first 22 points were a back-and-forth battle, a stretch during which no lead was greater than three points and the score was tied five times. As the set progressed, the Wildcats asserted themselves and began to slowly pull away when Georgetown began to struggle with its blocking and hitting accuracy.
Determined not to let the set go without a fight, the Blue and Gray countered a commanding 24-16 Villanova lead with a three-point run of their own – but an untimely defensive mental lapse by the Hoyas ended the set on the Wildcats’ fourth set point as a miscommunication allowed a weak Villanova kill to find open space in the center of the defense.
The Blue and Gray posted 13 kills and hit .222 as a team in the first frame, their most efficient set of the match.
After Villanova’s hot hitting allowed them to take the second set with relative ease, Georgetown rediscovered its first-set resiliency in a neck-and-neck third frame that featured 13 ties. The Blue and Gray overcame a 16-14 deficit with a 5-1 run to take a 19-17 lead, and after splitting the next four points, the Hoyas hoped to parlay their 21-19 advantage into a third-set victory to give their seniors at least one more set of collegiate volleyball.
But the Wildcats clawed back to take six of the next seven points, clinching the set and the match.
“We played pretty high energy in set one, and the third set was probably our best,” Assistant Coach Jake Lawrence said, who again filled in for Head Coach Arlisa Williams. “There was definitely no lack of effort. We worked hard, executed pretty well and had some good, long rallies. We could have used a couple more terminating swings here and there, though, and we didn’t block particularly well. But we were playing with a lot of emotion.”
Despite the unfortunate outcome, Dorismond had a productive senior night with 10 kills and a .348 hitting percentage.
Junior setter Ashley Malone put forth another well-rounded performance, posting five kills, 10 digs and a .333 hitting percentage to accompany her 27 assists.
Freshman outside hitter Brooke Bachesta, junior libero Tory Rezin and sophomore outside hitter Paris Coleman combined for 31 kills; Rezin’s 13 led the team, while Coleman’s 11 were a career-high.
Though an experienced squad this season, the Hoyas often struggled to play a complete, well-rounded game in which they were sharp in all aspects for all sets.
“The players came in to the summer time ready to really be good and to work hard, but it took us a while to really figure out how hard you have to work and how much effort you have to put in,” Lawrence said. “I think we went through some growing pains this season while they adjusted to that.”
Georgetown will return nine of its current 12 players next season, meaning that they will be deep and experienced once again. But the absence of strong hitting from Dorismond and Robinson as well as stellar serving from Trauth will represent challenges for the 2011 team.
“We’ve got to take the next step in the growing-up process and mature as a program,” Lawrence said. “We’ll have two seniors next year in Malone and Rezin whom we will really look to step up and lead the charge. .
Our goals for next year are the same as always. We want to not only make the Big East tournament but [to] also finish in the top four or five in the conference. That has always been our goal, and it will continue to be our goal.”