VOLLEYBALL | Hoyas Drop Home Finale
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 01:11
Of the many words that can describe the Georgetown volleyball team this season, “clutch” is not one of them. The Hoyas (7-20, 1-13 Big East) once again faded in a pressure situation Wednesday, dropping their final home match to Connecticut (18-11, 9-5 Big East) in four sets, 25-19, 27-29, 24-26, 19-25.
The game was a rematch for the Blue and Gray, who first lost to the Huskies in five sets in September. Despite that loss, Head Coach Arlisa Williams hoped before the match that a crack at Connecticut at home would provide a chance for Georgetown to grab its second biggest win.
But the Hoyas imploded in the third set, leading to another defeat.
“It was the same old story on a different day,” Williams said. “We played low-error volleyball in set one, but we didn’t do it in sets two, three and four, and it makes it really difficult because you give the other team confidence when you’re giving away points.”
Williams’ team spotted the Huskies an 11-5 lead in the first set but came roaring back due to several Connecticut errors. The second set was tight and included 16 tie scores, but despite fending off three opposing set points, the Hoyas could not capitalize on their own and dropped the set, 29-27.
“We had set point in the second set, and we couldn’t win,” Williams said. “Everybody just thought, ‘Here we go again.’ That’s what it felt like when I went into the locker room.”
Despite the momentum shift, Georgetown coasted at the beginning of the third set, taking an 8-0 lead that Williams attributed to energy-boosting lineup changes. The largest beneficiary of this change was freshman outside hitter Lauren Saar, who recorded all six of her kills and five of her 12 digs in the third set.
After the Hoyas took the early lead, the Huskies slowly closed the gap, but Georgetown still reached set point with a 24-21 lead. Right on cue, though, the Blue and Gray fell apart: they would lose four of the next five points on hitting errors — two each by redshirt sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Riggins and redshirt junior right-side hitter Annalee Abell.
Georgetown then could not keep up in the fourth, as UConn took an early lead and rode it to victory.
Sophomore middle blocker Dani White converted 16 kills to lead the Hoyas, while sophomore libero MacKenzie Simpson recorded 20 digs and junior setter Haley Lowrance added 40 assists.
The self-destruction at the end of the third set seemed like deja vu for the Hoyas, who once dropped five straight set points during one frame against Rutgers in September. Williams recognized that the Hoyas must improve their play in pressure situations in order to win more games next season.
“It will come with experience, but we get to have spring training, which is an awesome time to work on those areas that we’re going to be deficient in,” Williams said. “We need to be mentally stronger so we can push through when we get really close in the end. And we’re going do some things with conditioning and lifting and training that are going [to] stress us mentally and allow us to be more proficient in that area.”
Before thinking about next season, however, the Blue and Gray must focus on its final match at South Florida Sunday. Due to Big East scheduling intricacies, Georgetown will have to travel to Tampa, Fla., to play the Bulls for the second time this season.
On Oct. 14, the first time the two teams met, the Hoyas took the Bulls to five sets but could not pull out a victory. Sunday also marks senior middle blocker Lindsay Wise’s final match. In her last home match on Wednesday, Wise recorded four kills and four blocks.
“Lindsay’s been a great blocker for us throughout her career,” Williams said. “She’s just a nurturing, good, work-hard kind of person who’s extremely responsible and takes care of everything she needs to on and off the floor, and that example that she sets for us is one that will be missed.”
To give Wise a proper sendoff, the Hoyas hope that they can end their season on a good note. While wins have been hard to come by this season, Georgetown has proved that they can give a competitive match to any team, and USF is no exception.
“I think we just need to come out and believe in ourselves one last time because we’ve got all the skills we need to be successful,” Williams said. “We just need to come out and put it together one point at a time, from one to done. And if we can do that, that will be the difference between us winning and losing.”