Georgetown’s volleyball team (9-20, 3-13 Big East) will play its final two games of the 2014 season this weekend when it host Seton Hall (25-6, 13-3 Big East) Friday and Villanova (13-18, 6-10 Big East) Sunday. The Hoyas will say goodbye to an accomplished group of seniors and will look to finish their season by breaking its current six-match losing streak.
Last weekend, the team suffered two demoralizing losses on the road at St. John’s University (19-12, 8-8 Big East) and Providence College (6-24, 2-14). Although they have been eliminated from postseason contention, the team’s younger players, such as freshman setter Casey Speer, will be motivated to send the seniors out on a high note this weekend.
“It’s sad that we have our last two games coming up, but I think that it’s important that we all play for [the seniors],” Speer said. “These last two matches could really go either way, and we want to end their careers on a high by playing for them and making sure we leave it all out there because they deserve it.”
Seton Hall will represent another stern test for Georgetown, as the team will enter Friday’s game riding a six-game winning streak. Senior outside hitter Stacey Manthorpe and her sister, senior setter Shelbey Manthorpe, are two of the Pirates’ most accomplished players. Stacey ranks fifth in the Big East with 3.60 kills per set, and Shelbey averages 10.11 assists per set, which ranks her third in the conference.
In addition, Seton Hall boasts two top-notch middle blockers in senior Ashani Rubin and junior Amanda Hansen, who each rank among the top four in blocks per set among Big East players. Rubin and Hansen lead a Seton Hall defense that has allowed a miniscule 15.1 percent hitting percentage to its opponents, the lowest rate in the conference. Georgetown Head Coach Arlisa Williams is well aware of all of the Pirates’strengths and will work hard to prepare her team for a tough game.
“They’re a scrappy team, they’re a smart team, so we just need to expect all the balls to come back, and when they give us an opportunity, we have to take advantage of it,” Williams said.
Villanova should represent a more manageable opponent for the Hoyas. The Wildcats defeated the Hoyas 3-1 back on Saturday, Oct. 10, but the Hoyas will be motivated and ready to compete as the teams meet for a rematch.
“I remember Villanova from when we played them earlier on, and our team wants revenge, I’ll tell you that,” Williams said.
Junior outside hitter Lauren Carpenter leads the Wildcats with 3.46 kills per set, which is good for seventh in the Big East. 6-foot-4-inch freshman middle blocker Cara Cunningham ranks seventh in the conference with 1.14 blocks per set.
Although each of these opponents will bring a different set of skills to the table, the Hoyas will be focused on their own progress and on ending their seniors’careers on a positive note.
“We’re going to go out, we’re going to play hard, and we’re going to leave it all out on the floor. And hopefully not only celebrate our seniors, but also celebrate our entire group,” Williams said.
Georgetown’s five-player senior class has accomplished a great deal on the Hilltop. Senior outside hitter Alex Johnson has accumulated 1,159 kills and 1,067 digs over the course of her career to become one of a select-few players in Georgetown’s history to record more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. Senior libero MacKenzie Simpson, who has been sidelined recently with an arm injury, has recorded a staggering 1,369 digs in her career.
Senior middle blocker Dani White joins Johnson in the 1,000-kills club with 1,075 career kills in addition to registering over 400 blocks over her four years. Rounding out the senior class, outside hitter Elizabeth Riggins and defensive specialist Kieley Culbertson have each contributed years of hard work to an improving program. This class has undoubtedly been a special group for Georgetown’s volleyball program and will look to end their careers with a successful weekend.
“I want to make sure that every play is meaningful and done with no regrets. This is the final countdown, the last time that these 13 women will be playing together, and so I want to make the most of this experience because it’s unique, and it won’t happen again,” White said.
Georgetown will attempt to tie last season’s 10 wins with their match against the Pirates Friday at 8 p.m. and will look to better that win total in its final game against the Wildcats Sunday at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played at McDonough Arena.