McDonough Arena came to life as the Georgetown women’s volleyball team celebrated their first win in the Big East Conference on Saturday, Oct. 9 against the University of Connecticut. The Hoyas broke their nine-game losing streak with a dramatic 3-1 victory, a step in the right direction for their Big East aspirations.
The first set foreshadowed a highly contentious game, as neither Georgetown (5-12, 1-5 Big East) nor the Huskies (12-6, 4-2 Big East) were able to build a convincing lead early on. The teams equaled each other at 5-5 and 10-10 at 10 and 20 serves in, respectively. In a controversial moment, the linesman deemed a Huskie attack out of bounds after the ball had struck his foot, and the referee committee stripped the Hoyas of a point.
An apparent loss of momentum from the Hoyas emboldened the Huskies and allowed them to break the stalemate, establish a lead and force the Hoyas to call a timeout at 13-17. Georgetown was unable to regroup and lost the set 21-25, but impressive performances from junior right side hitter Peyton Wilhite and first-year outside hitter Giselle Williams signalled the Hoyas’ potential to continue challenging for the match. Williams completed seven digs, a team high for the match.
Georgetown opened the second set with a statement 7-3 lead via a series of aggressive attacking plays from Wilhite and a tenacious defensive performance from Williams. The Huskies, however, fought back to an even 8-8 draw and eventual 8-9 lead after a reception error from junior libero Jessica Cusi. The set continued to be a close battle, with the lead changing hands five more times. A series of lethal attacks from Wilhite and first-year outside hitter Mary Grace Goyena secured a Georgetown 25-20 win.
The Hoyas collected another point in the third set, putting them in front of UConn before the final set. Georgetown established an early five-point lead at 13-8 after a streak of five consecutive kills. Junior libero Kelly Chen came in as a substitute, reinvigorating the Hoyas. Compared to previous games, Georgetown’s defense was much more coordinated, effectively covering the spaces of the court and supporting their attack. The defensive effort helped secure a 25-18 win to close the set.
UConn fought back in the fourth set, desperate to keep themselves in the match. The Hoyas maintained their defensive solidity but were more vulnerable to the Huskies’ attacks; they failed to establish a significant lead.
Chen appeared to have the magic touch as the set came to its conclusion with a pair of service aces. She fought to keep the ball in play, frequently sprinting out of bounds to catch the ball and set up a Georgetown attack. The set came down to the wire, with both teams desperate to collect the two points needed to win the set. A Williams serve forced a UConn error at 29-27, sealing the Hoyas’ first victory in the Big East this season.
Cusi put in another spectacular defensive display Saturday night, registering a landmark 23 digs throughout the match. Her performance made her only the 11th player in Georgetown volleyball history to reach a total of 1,000 digs in her career.
Wilhite had a strong performance as well, having been the most involved player in Georgetown’s attacking plays. She contributed a total of 57 attacks, more than any player on either team, and completed a total of 15 kills across all sets.
Georgetown looks for another win in the Big East next weekend against Xavier (9-7-0, 4-2-0 Big East). The match is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, and will be played away in Cincinnati. The Hoyas will then travel to Indianapolis to face Butler (9-10-0, 3-3-0 Big East) at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16.