With two wins and a loss in the Active Ankle Challenge tournament in the Sunshine State, the Georgetown volleyball team improved its overall record above .500.
The Hoyas’ (6-5) first game in the tournament was against No. 5 Florida (8-1) on Friday afternoon. The Gators —arguably the highest caliber team Georgetown has faced this season — knocked off the Hoyas in three sets. Georgetown managed to keep the score close early on in the match, but Florida quickly pulled away en route to a decisive victory.
Georgetown Head Coach Arlisa Williams, however, was encouraged by the way the team handled such staunch competition.
“What we take away from Florida and continue to build on is that we can play with anyone,” she said. “I think the biggest takeaway from that match was seeing that level of play against a team that was bigger and more physical than us.”
The next day, Georgetown faced Western Michigan (6-4), and the match seemed to be moving in the same direction as the Florida game when the Broncos took the first two sets.
“They passed extremely well. They had [maybe] five balls in two sets that were not perfect balls that they could run plays out of,” Williams said.
But Georgetown was not going down without a fight. The Hoyas turned the tables after the break, coming out strong to win the third set and keep the match alive. The Blue and Gray hung tough, winning the third set — and the momentum — in a 27-25 decision.
“When we went in at the break, we just talked about having to serve more aggressively and take care from the in-line,” Williams said. “And our players came out and we served tough, and that forced Western Michigan to get out of system, and then we were able to defend them.”
Georgetown went on to take the final two sets and the match in a dramatic 3-2 victory.
Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Saar led with 20 kills, and juniors Dani White and Alex Johnson followed with 14 and 13. And true to Georgetown’s incredible depth this season, it was two other players who came in and helped the Hoyas get back in the game.
“[Senior outside hitter] Brooke Bachesta and [freshman right-side hitter] Shannon Ellis came off the bench against Western Michigan in the third set, and I think that they played a huge part in turning the tide for us,” Williams said.
Ellis recorded a career-high 10 kills, and Bachesta had seven. Both made key plays in the final three sets to secure the victory.
“I think that without the assistance from Shannon and Brooke, the match would have been very different, so I’m proud of them for that,” Williams said.
Fresh off the thrilling comeback win, the Hoyas played their final tournament game against Iona (1-8) on Saturday afternoon and pulled out a 3-1 victory.
“The players did extremely well early in the game executing the details — going from base to defense, swinging high, swinging deep into the court and passing well,” Williams said. “In the middle of the match, we started to break down passing-wise, we were a little bit inconsistent there and Iona was able to get a jump on us.”
Despite losing focus and dropping the second set, the Blue and Gray had a strong showing, with multiple players filling up the stats sheet en route to the win.
Saar and Johnson each had double doubles, and White led all players with 17 kills. Freshman setter Caitlin Brauneis had a double double of her own and recorded 42 assists on the evening. She named to the all-tournament team along with her sister, Florida senior setter Taylor Brauneis.
“Caitlin had a strong performance for us,” Williams said. “[She] was very solid, delivered good balls, made good decisions and she just continued to do that and got better throughout the weekend.”
With a successful weekend behind them, the Blue and Gray will next head to Morgantown, W.Va., for their final tournament before conference play begins.
Georgetown will first face West Virginia, a team currently boasting a perfect record at 10-0 record, notching its most recent victory in a 3-2 win over Hampton. They will also take on UMBC (7-4), who is currently on a 17 set win streak.
Williams, after seeing the high level of play and competition from the team in the Active Ankle Challenge, is hoping the team can continue to elevate their level of play in the coming matches.
“We just need to continue to build on us taking care of the details and staying consistent from beginning to end,” she said. “We have put together four pretty good matches with GW, Florida, Western Michigan and Iona, so the question now is, can we continue to get better?”