ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA
ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA

In its first Big East match of the season, Georgetown (6-7) will take on Villanova (8-5) on Saturday in Pennsylvania. The Hoyas are looking forward to facing the Wildcats, a long-time conference rival.

“We have such rivalry in the Big East, so each match has that much more excitement,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “The matches get harder because all of our conference opponents get video and oftentimes know us as well as we know ourselves. That means we have to play a cleaner game.”

Georgetown and Villanova were both under .500 in the Big East last year, with the Wildcats winning the sole match between the two 3-1. The squads are looking to improve on their conference records this season.

“We know that this conference is ready to battle. We had solid preseasons across the board, and each of us is out to prove something every day,” Williams said.

Villanova was ranked seventh in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll, while Georgetown was ranked ninth. Williams knows her team is eager to show they’re better than last in the conference, but she isn’t worried about the extra mental pressure that might bring with it.

“We’ll just take the floor and leave it all out there,” she said.

Georgetown will have to bring its best game against a surging Villanova team, which has a four-game winning streak and is undefeated at home this season.

“It’s going to be tough to combat,” Williams said. “As coaches we’ll make sure that our players are prepared. As a team, we need to go out and take care of our side of the net, be ready for a battle.”

Against Penn last week, Villanova outside hitter Lauren Carpenter had five blocks and a match-high 24 kills, and on the week hit .312, which earned her a mention on the Big East Honor Roll.

“They are well coached. They have a young but talented group with a senior libero who is a rock star at stabilizing the defense,” she said. “They’ve got a 6-foot-5 senior right side, Carly Edwards, who always goes off against us. They’ve got confidence.”

But the Blue and Gray have several stars of their own.

Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Saar leads all players with 152 kills. Junior Dani White follows with 133, and junior Alex Johnson is right behind her with 132. Junior libero MacKenzie Simpson heads the defensive effort, and freshman Caitlin Brauneis has already gotten attention in tournaments this year as a setter.

In those preseason tournaments, the Blue and Gray have gotten valuable experience and are ready to take on the conference.

“We have learned that we are a bunch of fighters,” Williams said. “Nine of our 13 matches went either four or five sets. We have clawed our way out of 0-2 deficits twice and made great runs to close gaps.”

Williams believes the Hoyas have the ability to compete with everyone, but she knows they must focus on staying mentally strong as well.

“We have learned that we have to pay attention to the details if we’re going to get wins on the board,” she said.

And with that in mind, the Hoyas are looking forward to showing the Wildcats what they can bring to the court this season.

“We’re going to go play our game to the best of our abilities and have some really good volleyball,” Williams said.

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