VOLLEYBALL | Hoyas Hunt for Home Win
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 1, 2013 01:11
The Georgetown volleyball team returns home this weekend to play host to familiar Big East foe Villanova, to whom the Hoyas lost in the teams’ only meeting this season.
The Hoyas (9-13, 3-6 Big East) lost to the Wildcats (12-10, 4-5 Big East) 3-1 in September after failing to respond to a strong Villanova start.
“We have to come out from the beginning,” said Head Coach Arlisa Williams. “I think that we were a little bit slow coming out against Villanova the first time around, and we know that we can play with them, but we’ve got to come out from the beginning. We can’t let them jump on us.”
The Blue and Gray is coming off a strong weekend in which they defeated DePaul 3-1 but lost to a nationally ranked Marquette team 3-0 in a tough match. They’ll use the momentum from the weekend as they seek their fourth conference win of the season.
“I think that we feel pretty good about the way that we played against DePaul and the way that we finished against Marquette on Sunday,” Williams said.
Georgetown has seen strong production from its offensive trio of sophomore Lauren Saar, and juniors Alex Johnson and Dani White, the top three on the team in kills who consistently record double figures. Johnson, an outside hitter, is also an asset defensively, while middle blocker White leads the team in blocks.
But it’s Saar, an outside hitter, who has really provided the offensive fuel this year. Against DePaul on Friday, she recorded a match-high 20 kills and 10 digs, while hitting .394. It was her 14th double-double of the season so far.
“She’s playing extremely well,” Williams said. “And Lauren has always been that solid player for us. Last year she was injured, so I think sometimes she gets overlooked, but she’s just a solid player all around, and she’s finding her stride right now.”
Villanova, meanwhile, has strength in sophomore outside hitter Lauren Carpenter, who has recently earned back-to-back Big East Honor Roll nods and has gone 16 straight matches with double-digit kills.
Additionally, the Wildcats are now playing with middle blocker Gabby Pethokoukis, a 6-foot-4 sophomore who adds considerable height and speed to the position.
“Villanova has some changes to their lineup, so we have to be aware of new personnel,” Williams said. “Number 15, [Pethokoukis], is in the lineup in the middle now, and she’s a little bit faster than the middle they’ve had before, so I think we’ll have to make an adjustment to that.”
Wildcat sophomore Emma Pettit is also a threat in the role of setter, where she averages 10.89 assists per set.
“While she’s young, she is very savvy and game knowledgeable, so we have to be aware of her,” Williams said. “She’ll make good decisions.”
But Georgetown has a young setter of its own, freshman Caitlin Brauneis, who averages 9.86 assists per set and more digs per set than Pettit.
Villanova is coming off a season sweep of DePaul after a 3-0 win last weekend, and it is aiming to sweep Georgetown as well.
The Wildcats were too fast for the Hoyas in their last meeting, and Williams noted then that they played low-error, clean volleyball. That’s something the Hoyas will need to execute this time around as they look to avoid a second loss to the Wildcats.
After a long weekend of travel, Georgetown is happy to be back on the Hilltop. The game is 7 p.m. Saturday in McDonough Arena, and Williams is expecting a good show.
“This is a grind, but [the team] is just coming in every day trying to find the energy, and they’re doing a great job,” she said.