The Georgetown volleyball team (6-11, 0-4 Big East) just cannot catch a break. Despite improved play, two agonizing four-set defeats to Seton Hall (15-2, 3-1 Big East) and Rutgers (15-4, 1-3 Big East) this weekend stretched the Hoyas’ losing streak to 10 games.
“[The pieces] are all there,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “We just have to focus on putting them together on the court at the same time.”
In Friday’s match against the Pirates — the first conference game at McDonough Arena this year — the Blue and Gray fell in four frames, 17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25.
Georgetown started the game flat, and Seton Hall raced out to an 8-2 lead. As the set progressed, however, the Hoyas began to cut down on errors but could not not prevent the visitors from taking the opening set.
The Hoyas showed more energy in the second set and a change in momentum was quickly apparent. Sophomore middle blocker Dani White, who ended the game with 15 kills, put on a dazzling display with several authoritative spikes and blocks.
“Dani did a great job of protecting the net, both defensively with her blocks and offensively,” Williams said.
But the Blue and Gray could not maintain their momentum through the final two sets, despite a strong effort from sophomore libero MacKenzie Simpson, who finished with a team-leading 20 digs.
Although the third set was competitive, Seton Hall dominated the fourth — albeit with some help from Georgetown — and ended the match comfortably.
“We didn’t pass [in the fourth set],” Williams said. “If you don’t pass, you can’t play the game.”
Despite the loss, Williams saw improvement from key players, such as sophomore outside hitter Alex Johnson, who finished with 12 kills and 12 digs, and junior setter Haley Lowrance, who dished out 40 assists.
“[Johnson] committed fewer errors than she has before, and [Lowrance] did a good job of getting our hitters in one-on-one situations,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t always terminate those sets that she gave us.”
Georgetown regrouped Sunday to face Rutgers, a team that had previously been winless in the Big East but one that Williams said brought “swagger” to the match. The Hoyas played spiritedly but could not close out two tight sets, leading to a heartbreaking 23-25, 16-25, 25-18, 24-26 defeat.
Johnson again led the Hoyas in defeat with 12 kills and 15 digs, while Lowrance added 38 assists and Simpson contributed 16 digs.
The Hoyas began the match with strong passing and defense, maintaining a lead throughout the first set. Despite a 22-18 lead, Georgetown committed a series of untimely errors that allowed Rutgers to sneak away with the win.
The second set was even harder for Georgetown, as the Scarlet Knights used several tipped balls to catch the Blue and Gray’s back line out of position.
Down 2-0, Wiliams used the break between the second and third sets to urge her players to stick to the original defensive game plan.
“We needed them to remember to be disciplined on defense and run those [tipped] balls down,” Williams said. “We came out in the third set and were really disciplined. We played some good volleyball.”
Led by Simpson’s and Johnson’s solid defense, Georgetown outplayed Rutgers en route to the 25-18 set win, one that seemed to put all the momentum with the Hoyas.
The Scarlet Knights were not discouraged, though, and raced to a 10-4 lead in the fourth set, but the Hoyas fought back and eventually tied the set at 18-18.
From there, the Hoyas’ stars took over. Three straight kills by Johnson and Lowrance’s two consecutive service aces gave Georgetown a 24-19 lead that seemingly assured a decisive fifth set. Despite having five set points, however, the Hoyas could not convert several efforts by senior middle blocker Lindsay Wise.
“We knew that [Wise] was having a whole lot of success, but they had a double block in front of her,” Williams said. “We just could not finish.”
The Scarlet Knights won seven consecutive points, and the 24-26 score left Georgetown still searching for a much-needed Big East win after a bitterly disappointing finish.
Despite the frustrating weekend, there were certainly flashes of excellent play. Williams cited one that came in the Rutgers game, when Simpson overshot a pass to Lowrance, who reached over the net and provided an astounding one-handed set to White, who pounded the ball to the floor.
“There are moments that have been really good,” Williams said. “We have been seeing improvement. It’s just not enough.”
Georgetown will have a week to make a bigger leap before playing host to Villanova at 3 p.m. Saturday.