The Hoyas went south this weekend and came up empty.

On Saturday, Georgetown (11-9, 4-3 Big East) fell to the University of South Florida (13-8, 4-3 Big East). “We struggled in areas we’re normally so strong in,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said.

As in many of their matches this season, the Hoyas got off to a great start, taking a five-point lead early on in the first set. The Bulls stayed tough, however, and tied the game at 10. With the momentum in their favor, they went on a 10-4 run to take the opening set 25-15. Georgetown’s hitting percentage was -.030, meaning they tallied more errors than kills. Tellingly, South Florida had two times as many kills as errors in every set of the match.

The Hoyas looked like a new team in the second set. “We switched our rotation,” Williams said, and “tried to get better matchups and have our better servers serving to their passers.”

Changing matchups certainly worked early on, and the two teams started even. But again, South Florida picked up its level of play. With the score tied at seven, the Bulls went on a 13-3 charge to give themselves a comfortable 20-10 lead.

Georgetown did not go away easily. The Hoyas fought back to bring themselves within four points, at 22-18, but the Bulls refused to fold. Instead, they eked out three points to take a two-set lead. In losing, however, the Hoyas gained something. They dramatically raised their hitting percentage to .121. Still, it was markedly lower than the Bulls’ .333. Williams addressed the erratic hitting throughout the match, saying, “[it] was a product of our inconsistency on passing and defense.”

The third set mirrored the first two. Again, the two teams were tied early on, until South Florida broke through and never looked back. This time, the run came when the teams were tied at nine and featured six straight service points from South Florida’s Stephanie Augustavo. The Hoyas were unable to mount anything solid, and the Bulls’ steady play earned them a convincing 25-16 third-set victory.

Junior right side hitter Courtney Cohen led the Hoya offense with seven kills on 13 attempts, resulting in a .462 hitting percentage. “I’m pretty excited about that,” Williams said of Cohen’s performance. Freshman libero Tory Rezin led the Hoyas with 10 digs, followed by fellow freshman setter Ashley Malone, who ended the match with four digs and 12 assists.

A big challenge for Georgetown was containing South Florida’s 5-10 junior outside hitter Marcela Gurgel, who ended the match with 18 kills and only one error.

“We tried to make sure we had hands in front of her on every swing she was going to take,” Williams said. “But she is a dynamic hitter who has every shot known to man.”

Georgetown’s defensive play was weak. In the digs category, the Bulls topped the Hoyas by 13. “Normally, we dig more balls than 8.6 per game,” said Williams. The Bulls also led in blocks, with 10 team blocks compared to six for the Hoyas.

Next Sunday, Georgetown will face off against Rutgers (1-15, 0-6 Big East).

“Our job this week is taking care of the ball,” Williams said.

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