FILE PHOTO: SOPHIE FAABORG-ANDERSON/THE HOYA Sophomore setter Paige McKnight recorded seven kills in Sunday’s 3-1 loss. She has 61 kills this season.
Sophomore setter Paige McKnight recorded seven kills in Sunday’s 3-1 loss. She has 61 kills this season.

The Georgetown volleyball team (5-13, 1-4 Big East) looks to improve its conference record this weekend against Providence (12-8, 0-4 Big East) on Friday and Creighton (10-6, 4-0 Big East) on Saturday, both on home court.

Georgetown suffered two tough 3-1 losses on the road last weekend against Marquette (13-4, 3-2 Big East) and DePaul (10-7, 4-1 Big East) and is looking to change the momentum.

Despite great efforts from several players at the net and in the backcourt, the Midwest matches revealed some of the team’s weaknesses. Head Coach Arlisa Williams said blocking broke down and was not where it needed to be over the weekend.

“We did not block nearly as well as we need to block. So that has been our focus at practice this week, [that] is how we are going to block some more balls,” Williams said.

Additionally, some long scoring runs by Marquette and DePaul made it difficult for Georgetown to recover and take a commanding lead during gameplay. In order to avoid runs this weekend, Williams emphasized the fundamentals of serving and passing in practice as well.

Williams said her team always has a great attitude on court, but when opponents go on runs, it is easy for the Hoyas to lose their mental edge — often breaks down the fundamentals of their game.

“One of the things we’ve actually been doing all year is some mental training at the beginning of every practice. I think our players are buying into that, so that makes a significant difference. And we just need to give them gentle reminders, and sometimes not so gentle reminders, that they have to think positive and have an optimistic outlook, ” Williams said.

Sophomore outside hitter Liv King also spoke about team efforts off the court to keep a strong mental edge during the game.

“The biggest thing in the locker room is that we are being positive with each other. We’re holding each other accountable, and we’re making sure we all are working towards our goals. I think as long as the mindset is there, our game is going to start getting there, too,” King said.

King has consistently been one of the team’s leading offensive players, posting seven kills at both matches last weekend.

She attributes her ability to execute at the net to the work of her teammates.

“What gives me the good opportunity to be a very good offensive asset is that our passing is really good and our setting is really solid. So, we’ve been working a lot on defense, and my setter, [sophomore] Paige [McKnight], is really good at getting us one-on-one with blockers, so I think they are giving me the opportunity to do really well,” Knight said.   “Also, I’m focusing on getting all the way off the net and keeping my elbow high.”

Williams kept practices short this week to give her players rest midseason. With school ramping up, as well as Big East play, she stressed the importance of taking care of their bodies in order to see good results come game day.

“Right now, it’s October — school is ramping up, Big East [games] are ramping up, their bodies are breaking down. So, we think that one of the best ways to get more out of our players is actually to shorten our practices,” Williams said. “So, we are trying to be intense at practice, focused at practice, but going a shorter period of time. So I think that’s going to help us.”

Providence will enter Friday’s match seeking its first conference win of the season. Sophomore outside hitter Megan Onyundo, middle blocker Allison Impellizeri and senior outside hitter Kayla Fitzgerald lead the Friars offensively.

On Saturday, Creighton looks to defend its currently undefeated conference record. 6-foot-3-inch sophomore outside hitter Jaali Winters and 6-foot-4-inch outside hitter Taryn Kloth lead the Blue Jays’ offense. Winters has 186 kills and 175 digs so far this season, and Kloth has 152 kills. Freshman libero Brittany Witt also posts impressive stats in the back row with 241 digs.

Games on Friday and Saturday are both set to start at 6 p.m. in McDonough Gymnasium.

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