Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Sophomore outside hitters Ashley Lancaster and Rachel Nelson look on as junior blocker Sara Albert returns a shot. Lancaster and Nelson recorded the most kills against both Syracuse and Notre Dame.

The women’s volleyball team had a jet-setting weekend, traveling first to Syracuse for a battle with the Orangewomen and then to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame. The miles traveled took their toll on the team, as the women dropped both matches over the weekend.

At the first stop, the Hoyas fell to the Orangewomen in four games (30-26, 30-32, 31-29, 30-27). It was the first time Syracuse had handed Georgetown a loss since 1997.

Georgetown’s first match against a Big East opponent was Friday night. Every match was close, as each came down to a missed opportunity by one side or the other.

Many of the mistakes came in the form of missed serves on the part of the Hoyas. The team had 21 service errors in the match.

“We shouldn’t have lost,” head coach Li Liu said. “We made so many errors and killed ourselves.”

Syracuse was helped by excellent blocking. The Orangewomen won the third game with two consecutive blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Conway registered eight blocks while fellow sophomore, middle blocker Kelly Duan, posted seven blocks of her own.

Georgetown players came up with some impressive numbers of their own, particularly sophomore outside hitter Ashley Lancaster. Lancaster hit a career-high 23 kills along with eight digs.

“She’s getting a lot better,” Liu said of Lancaster. “She has some outstanding hits, but she still is making errors.”

Sophomore outside hitter Rachel Nelson came in a close second to Lancaster, with 21 kills and 11 digs to complete her fifth double-double of the season.

The Syracuse match also marked the return of senior setter and captain Jen Ward. Ward, who sat out the early season with mononucleosis, had practiced with the team for only four days before taking the floor on Friday. Liu said she worried that Ward was still “a little inconsistent” but that her captain provided some of the on-court leadership the Hoyas have been looking for.

“She’s a senior, she’s the captain and she gets the job done,” Liu said. She added that it was difficult having to play Ward the whole weekend, but the team was without junior setter Margaret Vernon, who did not compete against the Orangewomen and the Irish due to personal reasons.

Ward finished the night with a match-high 42 assists and contributed seven kills.

The Hoyas left the East Coast and headed west but No. 17 Notre Dame made sure their stop in South Bend, Ind. was brief and unpleasant. Georgetown was defeated in straight games, 30-20, 30-23, 30-14, on Sunday.

Nelson and Lancaster again led the team offensively. Nelson put up 11 kills and five digs while Lancaster notched 12 kills and seven digs of her own.

Notre Dame’s hitting, however, proved no match for Georgetown. The Fighting Irish finished the match with a .358 kill percentage, compared to just .079 for the Hoyas.

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Brewster led the Irish with 16 kills.

With the loss, Georgetown fell to 4-11 overall and 0-2 in Big East play. Notre Dame improved to 10-2 and 2-0 in the conference. The Irish have never lost in all of 51 home matches since joining the Big East in 1995.

“I know that we’re young,” Liu said, “but it’s kind of a time to step up.” She said she was encouraged by the spirit of her team throughout the long weekend. “Off the court, the team chemistry is still there. We still have the spirit and I hope that carries on for a while.”

The Hoyas return home to take on the University of Delaware on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in McDonough Gymnasium. Big East play continues this weekend as Georgetown faces West Virginia and Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both matches are scheduled for 2 p.m.

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