Looking to come back after dropping two of its first three matches, the Georgetown volleyball team (1-2) will continue its nonconference schedule at the Rose Hill Classic in Bronx, N.Y. this weekend. The two-day tournament hosted by Fordham (1-3) will pit Georgetown against Robert Morris (2-2), Fordham and Niagara (1-2) and will serve as another opportunity for the Hoyas to improve their chemistry in the weeks prior to conference play.
A team composed of nine new members — including eight freshmen — Georgetown hopes every nonconference matchup will allow its new members to acclimate to collegiate play while growing together as a team.
“I think the primary focus for us right now is team chemistry — we are ‘hashtag family,’” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “We have got nine newcomers and we have to know who each other [is]. We have to learn how to work together; we have to make sure that we have each other’s back.”
The New York tournament, featuring competition from Pennsylvania and New York, will follow Georgetown’s matches last weekend against teams based in and around D.C. in a tournament held at American University. Georgetown beat Howard in five sets but fell to George Mason and American in three and four sets, respectively.
Junior middle blocker Ashlie Williams led the effort, contributing 25 kills and 33 digs over three matches, both the second-most in both categories for the Hoyas so far this season.
“[Ashlie is] an extremely talented and versatile player. She is so quick, she is so long and she’s hungry. All of that is coming to the forefront,” Coach Williams said.
Williams, who played a middle blocker throughout her volleyball career, is primarily seeing action as a right-side hitter this season as the team wants to have an experienced player in that position. Coach Williams said that she hopes freshman middle blocker Somto Egbuonu can transition into the position later in the season.
In addition to her newfound role on the court, Williams, alongside senior outside hitter Lauren Saar and junior setter Caitlin Brauneis, will also have the task of being a leader for her young teammates. As the only returning members for the Hoyas and the most senior players on the team, the three upperclassmen expect to shape the team environment and help their newest members adjust to collegiate athletics and life on the Hilltop.
“We came into the summer and preseason and there’s so many new faces and new Georgetown students and they have a million questions,” Ashlie Williams said. “The three of us were just kind of like, ‘All right, we kind of have to step up and take this role.’”
Just as Williams, Saar and Brauneis have used their experience and talents to contribute to their team and its rebuilding, so too have the freshmen, as they quickly made their mark for the Hoyas in their first tournament.
Outside hitter Alyssa Sinnette earned a team high in kills in two of their first three matches and led the team with six service aces.
“Alyssa’s done a great job for us; I call her ‘the great equalizer,’” Coach Williams said. “She just goes out, she plays hard, she’s got a positive attitude and she does what we ask for her and she’s a very talented athlete.”
“[Paige] puts up great balls and it makes it a lot easier for our hitters to score points just because of what she does to get them prepared,” Coach Williams said of freshman setter Paige McKnight. “She’s very much a competitor so there’s times when we might struggle a bit — Paige just takes over and that’s a good thing; you want to have someone like that, with that kind of mindset at the setting position.”
Underclassmen and upperclassmen alike will be needed to help Georgetown earn a victory in its first match of the weekend. The Hoyas will encounter one of the toughest players in the tournament in Robert Morris junior outside hitter Arden Fisher. In the Colonials’ first four games of the season, Fisher racked up a team-high 69 kills and 4.31 kills per set and the second-highest number of blocks on her team with 13 this season.
Georgetown will kick off its weekend schedule Friday with a match against Robert Morris at 10:30 a.m., followed by a match against Fordham at 7 p.m. The Hoyas will end their New York trip with a match against Niagara at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.