volleyball
ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA

In a realigned Big East Conference that introduces three new teams to division competition, including a strong Creighton squad, the Georgetown volleyball team has its work cut out for its for the 2013 season.

The Hoyas seek to improve on a disappointing 2012, when they were 7-21 overall and 1-14 in the Big East after many close wins in conference play.

This year they plan on taking advantage of their experienced roster, which includes a majority of the core players from their 2012 lineup.

“You can’t teach someone to be experienced, so we love it that we’ve got seven upperclassmen,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said.  “All of them have seen floor time, so that’s going to be very, very good for us as we move forward.”

The departure of senior captain Lindsay Wise marked the loss of an important team leader, but Williams saw the team begin to fill that void last spring, when they met for 15 weeks for leadership development.

“Every single one of our players has stepped up in a leadership role, and everyone has a voice, and everyone is respected,” Williams said.  “It’s very cool that we’ve got a team of leaders instead of just looking to one.”

Wise’s exit also meant that Georgetown was losing a four-year starter who had career totals of 866 kills and 395 blocks, and the Hoyas will look to veterans as well as freshmen to continue production in the middle.

Junior middle blocker Dani White, who last year had 306 kills and a team-high 107 blocks, was unanimously named to the 2013 preseason all-Big East team.

“She is a dynamic athlete and she only got better this summer,” Williams said.  “I think it is a well-deserved recognition, but as Dani points out, she can’t do it without her teammates.  Hopefully the rest of the season goes just as well.”

Williams is also excited to watch freshman middle blocker Ashlie Williams take the floor.

“She’s touching about 10 feet, and she’s got some of the longest arms I’ve ever seen.  While she doesn’t have the experience that Lindsay had, I think she’s going to be a good replacement in the middle.”

Freshmen Erin NaPier and Caitlin Brauneis will provide depth as setters, and Shannon Ellis comes in as a right-side hitter.

“She touches over 10 feet,and is killing it on the right side,” Williams said.  “I think that we’ve got a really good class.”

The Hoyas also have experience and strength on the outside in junior Alex Johnson, who led the team with 333 kills last season, junior Brooke Bachesta, who had 117, and sophomore Lauren Saar, who contributed 194 digs to go along with her 126 kills.

On the defensive end, junior libero MacKenzie Simpson led the Hoyas last year with 397 digs, and redshirt senior Whitney Jenks and sophomore Emily Gisolfi will also provide experience in the rotation.

But even with the returning talent, the Hoyas have a lot to prove this season. They were placed ninth in the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, which placed newcomer Creighton at the top.

“More than anything, we just want to go out on the floor with that little chip on our shoulder and show everybody that we are better than ninth in this new conference,” Williams said.

The Big East retained Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s, and DePaul and added Creighton, Xavier and Butler.  While many of the schools are similar to Georgetown in size and athleticism, the wins will not come easily.

“It’s not going to be a walk in the park for us by any means,” Williams said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The Hoyas will face tough competition in Creighton, ranked 24th nationally at the end of last season, and Marquette, second in the poll, who is coming off a 27-win season and a second-straight NCAA tournament berth.

“I think we have a really talented team — they work extremely hard,” she said.  “As we take the floor every single day, we’re just trying to go out and compete with passion and purpose, we’re trying to outwork everybody that we play against and we’re trying to strive for excellence in all that we do.”

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