The Georgetown women’s volleyball team jumped straight into this year’s campaign by traveling to Fairfax, Va. to take part in George Mason’s Brion’s Grille/Doubletree Patriot Invitational.

This past weekend’s tournament boasted an impressive collection of teams, all of which featured strong hitters, according to Georgetown head coach Li Liu.

The Hoyas had an auspicious beginning, defeating the Fairfield Stags 3-1 (30-24, 30-24, 24-30, 30-28) behind an especially strong performance from junior middle blocker Sara Albert. Albert contributed 16 kills to lead the team and also added four blocks to the cause. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Lancaster complimented Albert’s effort with 15 kills of her own along with 11 digs.

Despite a close loss in the third game, Georgetown came out strong and earned its first victory of the 2003 season.

Freshmen middle blockers Basak Karamehmet and Annie Connor each had 6 kills, with Connor turning in a .545 kill percentage to lead the team.

Unfortunately, the weekend was marred by inconsistency, which was evident from the start of the second match against host team George Mason. The Hoyas lost that match in straight games, 30-19, 30-24, 30-26, with none of the players posting double digits in kills. Liu said that her team was simply making a lot of mental errors, an inherent problem for a team with five freshmen.

The Patriots’ senior outside hitter Aline Pereira, who dominated with 17 kills, demonstrated the hitting power that the Hoyas had feared entering the match.

The final match of this two-day tournament was against the Southwest Missouri State Bears, and again the Hoyas were on the losing end. They were defeated, 30-19, 30-19, 25-30, 30-24. There were no remarkable individual performances, but the players worked to support each other.

“Everybody had a great attitude,” Liu said.

The team chemistry may not be complete yet. Senior setter and team captain Jen Ward is out with mononucleosis but is expected to return in about two weeks. In her absence, junior Margaret Vernon took over setting duties.

The weekend spent in Fairfax was a good start to what is sure to be a building year for the women’s volleyball team.

“We need to be aggressive,” Liu said. “We’re young but we have potential.”

That potential will again be put to the test as the team travels west to take part in the Cal State Sacramento Tournament on Sept. 5 and 6. The Hoyas will again meet fierce competition but Liu is not only focused on wins and losses. Her goal for her team this weekend, as well as for the rest of the year, is to gain both experience and consistency.

“Every time we play we get better,” she said. “It’s a learning process.”

The tournament in Sacramento will mark a return to their home state for many players, giving them added incentive to build on their performances from this past weekend.

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