Volleyball | Hoyas Hope to Build on Dramatic 5-Set Win

FILE PHOTO: ERICK CASTRO/THE HOYA Freshman middle blocker Symone Speech (left) leads Georgetown with 52 total blocks in the 2015 season and freshman setter Paige McKnight leads the team with 9.68 assists per set in the team’s 20 matches.

FILE PHOTO: ERICK CASTRO/THE HOYA
Freshman middle blocker Symone Speech (left) leads Georgetown with 52 total blocks in the 2015 season and freshman setter Paige McKnight leads the team with 9.68 assists per set in the team’s 20 matches.

The Georgetown volleyball team (8-12, 2-5 Big East) faces another pair of away matches this weekend, travelling for conference contests against Xavier (9-8, 5-2 Big East) and Butler (5-14, 2-5 Big East). The Hoyas are coming off a 3-2 win over DePaul (12-7, 1-6 Big East) at McDonough Arena last Sunday.

Sunday’s game, the second out of the two Homecoming Weekend games, began with a strong start by the Hoyas, who rushed out to a two-set lead. The Blue Demons battled back, winning the third and fourth sets to set up a decisive fifth. However, Georgetown turned up the intensity and stormed to a 15-10 final-set victory.

“I think that we came out of the gates hard. They played well in the early parts. Then, we kind of lost our stride; DePaul stepped their game up after the intermission. We really had to fight to overcome some things,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “These Hoyas want to win, and they’re going to do everything in their power to do it. They just stepped up to the plate mentally, challenged themselves to persevere, and they did.”

Freshman middle blocker Symone Speech echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“Games like that, when it gets down to the wire, are really all about confidence. In the third and fourth set, we really played like we were scared, like we were just playing not to lose. So, on the bench we had to recollect ourselves and have confidence out there. … It’s hard, but we were able to do it,” Speech said.

Senior outside hitter Lauren Saar, who finished with a double-double of 13 kills and 10 digs, admitted that the team felt a bit of anxiety once the two-set lead disappeared.

“We were all laughing, saying, ‘Why did we do this to ourselves? We could’ve just done it in three!’ But, either way, the W’s a W so it was fun to come out with the win at home, for sure,” Saar said.

After that well-earned victory, the Hoyas now face a road trip with crucial implications.

“The conference is really crazy right now, everyone is kind of beating everyone, so if we win this weekend that’ll put us really high up in the conference,” Saar said. “We might be able to go to the tournament, so we kind of have to win. It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m really excited to play.”

Georgetown first travels to Cincinnati, where it will face Xavier in a Friday match at 3 p.m. The Hoyas will have to keep an eye on junior outside hitter Abbey Bessler, who leads the Musketeers by a significant margin with 283 kills on the season.

Asked about strategies for limiting the impact of players like Bessler, Speech gave a wry smile.

“It’s kind of mean, but you pick on people — at the net, you kind of call them out, say what they’re going to do. … Getting in someone’s head helps a lot,” Speech said.

Immediately following its match against Xavier, Georgetown will travel to Indianapolis, where it will face Butler in a match at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs are led by freshman middle blocker Anna Logan, who has the most kills and digs on the team, with 213 and 187, respectively.

After this weekend’s crucial games, the Hoyas will return to McDonough Arena to begin the second half of their conference schedule.

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