FILE PHOTO: ERICK CASTRO/THE HOYA Sophomore middle blocker Symone Speech had 14 kills in Georgetown’s straight-set victory over Villanova. Speech was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week.
Sophomore middle blocker Symone Speech had 14 kills in Georgetown’s straight-set victory over Villanova. Speech was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week.

Georgetown volleyball (5-10, 1-1 Big East) came up with a huge conference win against favored Villanova (10-5, 1-1 Big East) this weekend, taking down Villanova in straight sets.

The Hoyas saw fantastic play from their offense, with three sophomores recording over 10 kills.

Sophomore middle blocker Symone Speech had 14 kills in the match to lead all Hoyas, sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Sinnette added 10 kills and 10 digs and sophomore outside hitter Liv King drove home 11 kills of her own.

Villanova came into this match having won six of its last seven matches, including a sweep of Big East opponent Seton Hall. It also carried a 13-game win streak on its home court, which Georgetown snapped to even its own Big East record to 1-1. This match came at a time when the Hoyas were working together better than they had earlier this season.

“The players have always been working very hard in the gym, and we’ve focused on the mental aspect of the game. They went into this game fully prepared and just extremely excited to play Villanova. [Villanova] won the conference tournament last year and are one of our biggest rivals, and typically a very good team, so we had to come in with that mindset that we were going to do what we had to do, and we did,” Georgetown Head Coach Arlisa Williams said.

The match itself was highly competitive, but Georgetown’s mental strength and ability to go on key scoring runs kept Villanova from breaking through its defensive pressure and consistent attack. In the first set, each team battled even to a score of 9-9, but the Hoyas went on the attack and delivered a 7-1 run from which the Wildcats could not recover, never getting within five points of the lead.

Georgetown took that set 25-19 and looked to continue to impose its will on the second set.

That next set saw the Hoyas take on a wave of comebacks by the Wildcats, answering a 7-3 run with a five-point run of their own, and taking the lead 18-17. But after Georgetown tied the score at 20, the Hoyas managed to score five unanswered points, punctuated by a kill from Sinnette.

In the final set, the Wildcats were on their heels but continued to give the Hoyas all they had, answering Georgetown points with runs of their own. But the Blue and Gray led the entire way, staving off a comeback bid with three final kills by King to take the set 25-21, and the match 3-0.

Coming off a very effective offensive performance, Williams stressed that the team’s newfound aggression in the service game was a key to its timely runs.

“A couple of things happened to help us [get on scoring runs],” Williams said. “One, we served extremely aggressively and that made Villanova easier for us to block and at least get hands in front of and play defense behind. And then we got into their heads a little bit, because we remained so consistent. … Villanova had to work extremely hard to get going, and we just didn’t let them.”

With a big conference win now under its belt, the team now looks to capitalize and build on its success while looking at the rest of the conference season, especially in its next match against Seton Hall (8-8, 2-1 Big East). Williams emphasized that this win was both an important building block for the team, but also just another step in a long season.

“I’m hoping that [this win] is just something we continue to build on. We talked about this at the beginning of the year, that this is a process, a 31-match journey that we need to take one step at a time,” Williams said. “But this win was still a huge emotional victory for us because we realized how talented we are, and hopefully we will be able to build on that. But, everyday really is one day at a time.”

The Hoyas will take on the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. on the University of D.C. campus as they look to improve their Big East conference record.

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