STANLEY DAI/THE HOYA Freshman outside hitter Liv King is second among Georgetown players with 224 kills this season, averaging 2.49 kills per set. King has played in all 24 of her team’s matches in the 2015 season, starting 21 of them.
STANLEY DAI/THE HOYA
Freshman outside hitter Liv King is second among Georgetown players with 224 kills this season, averaging 2.49 kills per set. King has played in all 24 of her team’s matches in the 2015 season, starting 21 of them.

The Georgetown volleyball team (9-15, 3-8 Big East) split a pair of Big East matches this weekend, falling to St. John’s (15-11, 5-6 Big East) on Friday night before rallying to beat Providence (10-15, 1-10 Big East) on Sunday. The Hoyas are now eighth in the conference as they face two consecutive road trips in the coming weeks.

The weekend began with a tough match against St. John’s. The Red Storm were held to a close first-set win, but a strong run broke open the second set and propelled them to a 3-0 win. Freshman middle blocker Symone Speech led the team with 10 kills on a .562 hitting percentage.

“I think when games like that happen, it’s because everyone’s in their head and kind of freaking out,” Speech said of the loss. “So, when we get in holes like that, I try and go out with lots of energy and get everyone super pumped up. It helps.”

Coach Arlisa Williams emphasized the problems her team had with St. John’s serving, noting the Red Storm’s offensive strategy.

“They were serving aggressively, and we could not get in system. When we’re in system, [freshman setter] Paige [McKnight] can set all three hitters in the front row. We were scrambling all over the place, and that just makes it really tough,” Williams said.

Despite the tough loss, there were positives to take away from the match. According to Williams, the Hoyas showed remarkable positivity and togetherness in the face of adversity.

“We liken this team and this program to a family. In families, sometimes things go great and it’s really easy to love each other. Sometimes, things don’t go our way, and you still have to love on each other and encourage each other and build each other up. That’s something that we’ve been focused on all year long, and they’re doing it,” Williams said.

That positive spirit carried over to a much more celebratory atmosphere on Sunday. It was Georgetown’s Dig Pink match, devoted to raising breast cancer awareness. Players wore pink shoelaces and accessories, and fans in attendance who wore pink received unique prizes. The Hoyas thrilled the crowd with a dominant performance, beating Providence three sets to one.

Georgetown came out strong in the first set, setting the pace with impressive serving. Freshman outside hitter Liv King had two of her career-high four aces in the first set.

“The biggest thing that serving does is it gets them out of system right away, so then we have a better chance to set up the block, and then we get the point,” King said.

While Providence managed to battle back and take the second set, Georgetown came out on fire in the third and never looked back, winning the third and fourth sets by convincing margins.

Speech was once again a standout performer, recording a team-high 14 kills on a .455 hitting percentage and adding 4 1/2 blocks. Williams was effusive with her praise for the freshman.

“Symone has been working really, really hard,” Williams said. “As a middle, she has to be up in the air every single time, whether she gets set or not. A lot of times our hitters were one-on-one, and that’s because of the effort that she’s putting forth in the middle, and without that they end up hitting into a double block. It’s just all-out effort all the time, and we thrive on that.”

Williams also highlighted the contributions of some of the team’s less regular players against both St. John’s and Providence, including freshman middle blocker/right-side hitter Alexandra Rivera, freshman middle blocker Somto Egbuonu and sophomore setter Meghan Richard.

“Our success doesn’t just depend on the six or seven players that are always in the rotation, it depends on the contributions of everyone, and we just saw people step up and do it. That’s huge,” Williams said.

Georgetown will be hoping for more of those performances this weekend, as it travels to face Seton Hall (11-12, 5-6 Big East) on Friday and Villanova (19-5, 9-2 Big East) on Saturday.

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