Georgetown volleyball faced a tough opponent in Villanova this weekend, losing a close match three sets to one in its first Big East competition of the season.

The Hoyas (6-8, 0-1 Big East) let the Wildcats (9-5, 0-1) jump out to an early lead in the first set, 7-1. They were able to keep the set competitive, though, tying it at 24, but an ace followed by a Georgetown error gave the first set to Villanova, 26-24.

“The pace of the game was just so fast, and Villanova jumped on us,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “But our players are fighters, and they just found their composure, and then really rallied.”

The Blue and Gray came back in the second set after powerful serving by junior libero MacKenzie Simpson, who led two separate runs to put Georgetown ahead.

“I think that was just us really working hard to finish and getting the ball to the right people,” Williams said.

Georgetown fought off a run by the Wildcats that put them within one and managed to eke out a win in the second set, which junior outside hitter Alex Johnson sealed the deal with a kill.

“I think we were up 20-12, and Villanova really jumped on us, and we just said, we’re going to pass, set, kill just two times to finish this,” Williams said. “We were able to terminate, and that’s what allowed us to close the gap in the first set and then push in the second set for the win.”

The third set bounced back and forth, with both teams connecting early, and things were knotted up at 6-6. But Villanova rallied as they capitalized on some Georgetown errors. The Hoyas managed to keep it close, but a kill by the Wildcats Claire Crutchfield, followed by a Georgetown error, gave Villanova the set and a 2-1 advantage.

Villanova came out roaring in the fourth frame, scoring nine consecutive points en route to a huge 11-2 advantage. Despite a Hoya comeback on the service of junior middle blocker Dani White, Georgetown could not come back from a 13-7 final run that ended the set 25-15 in favor of the Wildcats.

“They played a pretty fast-paced game of volleyball, and they were low-error. They did not make a whole lot of mistakes early, and they didn’t make a lot of mistakes late,” Williams said. “That made it easier for them to win.”

Two Hoyas ended the match with double-digit kills — White had 12, and Johnson had 10, as well as 13 digs and three assists.

“They served tough, we passed OK, and we were getting some good production out of our right side and our middles,” Williams said.

Villanova sophomore outside hitter Lauren Carpenter led all players with 18 kills, and Crutchfield contributed 13.

The loss dropped the Hoyas to 0-1 in the Big East while giving the Wildcats their first conference win. Villanova extended its winning streak to five games and are now an impressive 5-0 at home.

Despite the loss, Georgetown’s play showed some successful defensive execution.

“I think we played great defense. We’ve been working on our blocking for the past few weeks, and we just see that getting better and better,” Williams said.

The Blue and Gray averaged 2.75 blocks against the Wildcats, totaling 11 over the four sets.

“We’re doing some great stuff, and we’re going to continue to build on that, hopefully staying in passing lines and defensively we’ll be able to terminate some balls, and that’ll be the difference between winning and losing,” Williams said.

Georgetown has been plagued by inconsistency in recent matches, but if the team can even out its execution, it will be formidable competition in the Big East.

“Right now, we’re just going to practice every day, working hard, addressing the issues. It’s a mentally tough group, and so we’re just learning how to do that from beginning to end,” Williams said.

The Hoyas’ ability to compete late into sets and make strong comeback runs is promising for their upcoming matches if they can capitalize on their strength.

“I think they’re a really talented team, we just need to finish,” Williams said.

Georgetown will have the home-court advantage this weekend for the first time in Big East play, facing off against Marquette and DePaul. Williams and the team are looking forward to finally being back on the Hilltop and playing in front of a home crowd.

“We need as much support as we can get. We need those fans in the stands,” she said.

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