Following back-to-back five-set losses against Xavier University and Providence College, the Georgetown University women’s volleyball team entered its Saturday matchup against the University of Connecticut seeking a return to form with a big conference win.
Georgetown (12-7, 3-4 Big East) took down UConn (5-13, 0-6 Big East) three sets to one in a match that showcased great blocking and attacking in front of an energetic home crowd. After a sloppy first set, the Hoyas set the tempo for the remainder of the game with their strong offense, earning them an impressive comeback victory.
The opening set began with back-and-forth play from both teams, but UConn broke out first, jumping to an early 10-3 lead and forcing a Georgetown timeout. However, little changed with the game’s tempo, as the Huskies took advantage of poor blocking and a lack of connection between the Hoya defense and their setter. After conceding an unanswered 9-point run, Georgetown began to settle into a rhythm, but it was too little, too late as the Huskies took the first set 25-12.
The early part of the second set saw the Hoyas continue to struggle with their blocking, but after a brief Husky run, Georgetown was finally able to put together consistent attacking play. Junior outside hitter Mary Grace Goyena and senior right side Ruth Kayongo led the way for the Hoya offense, keeping the set tight despite Georgetown’s continued defensive woes. A strong block from graduate right side Peyton Wilhite and graduate middle blocker Makayla Serrett sealed a hotly contested second set for the Hoyas 25-22.
UConn kept up the pressure in the third set, and the teams went back-and-forth for much of the set, with neither able to form any sort of lead. But at 15-all, a resounding kill from Wilhite preceded an impressive block from Serrett and Wilhite, shifting the momentum and eventually forcing a Husky timeout with the Hoyas up 19-16. Coming out of the timeout, Georgetown kept up the pressure as its strong attack forced another UConn timeout at 22-18. A kill from first-year middle blocker Kamryn Lee-Caracci closed out the set 25-19, and Georgetown entered the fourth up two sets to one over UConn.
The Hoyas came out with impressive offensive pressure in the fourth set, again led by Goyena and Kayongo, Georgetown quickly took a 5-2 lead. However, UConn bounced back with impressive back-to-back kills from outside hitter Emma Werkmeister. The Hoyas responded well, and three straight kills from Kayongo forced a Husky timeout at 15-10, as Georgetown looked to put away the match.
Yet, coming out of the timeout, UConn went on a 9-3 run, stoking fears of a third consecutive blown lead for the Hoyas. But Georgetown showed impressive resilience, as a dominating block from Wilhite and Lee-Caracci was followed by a powerful kill from Wilhite, giving the Hoyas a 23-22 lead. A final kill from Serrett closed out the match, as the Hoyas took a nail-biting fourth set 25-23.
After the game, Head Coach AJ Bonetti said he was impressed with Georgetown’s hitters throughout the game and particularly Kayongo, who led the team with 16 kills.
“Ruth coming in on the outside was big for us,” Bonetti told The Hoya. “Coming off the bench like that is a really supreme effort.”
In reference to their first-set woes and subsequent comeback, Bonetti credited a scrappy performance from the defense, who rallied to post 11 blocks despite the sloppy start and eased the pressure put on the Hoya back row.
Coming off of a severely disappointing 4-25 season, Bonetti has done a remarkable job leading the Hoyas in his first season. Preseason projections had Georgetown finishing dead last in the Big East, but they currently sit sixth in the conference with 12 wins. In the limited rest time until its next match on Wednesday against Villanova University (12-7, 3-4 Big East), Georgetown hoped to spread its offense more evenly to continue their strong form.
“We want to be a better-distributed team,” Bonetti said, “we want to get our middles involved.”
Georgetown fell to Villanova 3-1 on Wednesday, Oct. 11, and will hope to rebound against the No. 17 Creighton Bluejays (13-4, 4-2 Big East) in Omaha, Neb. at 7 p.m. Friday.