FILE PHOTO: STANLEY DAI/THE HOYA Senior middle blocker Ashlie Williams, right, has played in 35 sets this season and started all nine matches. She has recorded 84 kills and six attacks to go along with 19 digs and 31 total blocks.
Senior middle blocker Ashlie Williams, right, has played in 35 sets this season and started all nine matches. She has recorded 84 kills and six attacks to go along with 19 digs and 31 total blocks.

The Georgetown women’s volleyball team (2-7) hosted the Georgetown Classic — the Hoyas’ first home tournament since 2010 — this past weekend. The Georgetown Classic pitted Georgetown against a very talented field, consisting of a talented Towson (9-1) program, a power conference opponent in Maryland (7-2) and Ivy League invitee Princeton (3-3) — a field that saw the Hoyas drop all three games.

The first match of the weekend saw the Hoyas face off against the Towson Tigers. The Hoyas started slow out the gate going down 3-10 in the first set, but battled back late, scoring four points in a row to make the score 20-24 off a service ace by sophomore setter Paige McKnight.

After a Towson timeout, the Hoyas finished off the set, taking a 1-0 lead in the match. The second set was a back-and-forth affair early on, but Towson ended up taking the second set by a score of 16-25. In the third set the Hoyas found their rhythm on offense and were able to break through and take the set 30-28. In the fourth set, the Hoyas could not maintain their momentum and ultimately dropped the final set to the Tigers by a score of 15-25, losing the match 1-3.

“We were definitely not tired. And we reminded each other of not focusing on a physical tiredness more, so just staying mentally tough, and executing when we needed to,” senior middle blocker Ashlie Williams said.

In the match against Princeton, Georgetown saw a standout performance from sophomore middle blocker Symone Speech, who recorded 19 kills with an over 50 hit percentage. In the first set, the Hoyas’ offense traded points early on and took a 21-16 lead after a block by the team’s defense.

Princeton could not come back, and the Hoyas took the first by a score of 25-23. The second set saw another intense battle as the Tigers went on a six-point run after being down 24-20, to win the set 24-26. In the third set, Princeton took control early on pushing out to a 10-point lead and staving off a Georgetown comeback, winning 19-25 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

With their backs against the wall, the Hoyas responded with energy, taking the set 25-12. In the fifth and final set each squad traded points until Princeton took a two-point lead at 10-12 and successfully fended off the Hoyas, winning the set by a score of 13-15 and taking the match 2-3.

“I think the biggest thing with our group is that we are learning that we function at a high level when we have great communication and great energy,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said.

In the final match of the Georgetown Classic, the Hoyas took on the Terrapins. In the first set, Maryland jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Georgetown responded with tenacity, sticking with the Big 10 school throughout the match and taking the lead at 23-22 off a kill from Speech. But the Terps rallied and finished off the set, winning 23-25.

The Hoyas and Terps continued to battle throughout the second set, until Maryland pulled ahead after being tied at 11 and scored four points in a row to finish the set 18-25. The Hoyas came out determined in the third set, being down 0-2 in the match, and carried a six-point lead, 16-10. The Terps proved to be too much for the Hoyas, coming back to win the set 22-25 and taking the match 0-3.

Williams was particularly pleased with the team’s improvement on the offensive end throughout the tournament.

“From the beginning of the weekend to the end of the weekend our passing definitely got better. Against Towson on Friday we were not in system, we were not passing the ball well enough to get our hitters great swings,” Arlisa Williams said. “We passed great against Princeton this morning and passed extremely well against Maryland this evening which gave Paige [the chance] to give our hitters great balls.”

Although the Hoyas faced a talented field, the players relished the opportunity to play highly ranked opponents before the conference season. The team also focused on the development of a young core of players consisting of mainly freshman and sophomore athletes.

“We were playing all out, and we played the hardest we have of the season over the past three matches,” Ashlie Williams said.

“Although they did not go the way we would have liked we kept with these teams, we took Princeton to five and hung with a Big 10 team, which is really encouraging. So we just have to take these positive things to help us move forward, so we can take our next preseason tournament and keep going forward into conference as well.”

The Georgetown Classic also gave the Hoyas a unique opportunity to play host to a tournament in McDonough Arena, which saw an attendance of more than 500 fans at the final match of the tournament.

“It was exciting to be at home,”  Ashlie Williams said, “I had not had the experience of hosting a tournament here over the course of my four years. … So it was really nice to come out and show out for them.”

Georgetown gets back on the road next weekend to take part in the Air Force Invitational. The Hoyas open play against Northern Colorado (4-6) and Air Force (8-2) Friday at 2 p.m.

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