Volleyball | Saar, Higareda Reach Milestones

As the Georgetown volleyball (10-20, 4-13 Big East) season winds to a close, the Hoyas faced two tough home matches this weekend. Georgetown was unable to pick up a win against Big East opponents Butler (11-18, 7-9 Big East) and Xavier (16-11, 12-4 Big East), but the quality of the performances and some significant milestones left room for a focus on the positives.

On Friday, Butler came to the McDonough Arena to take on Georgetown at 8 p.m. The Hoyas came out strong, charging out to a 10-5 first-set lead. However, a series of mistakes — including several inopportune service errors — let the Bulldogs back in the match. Butler ended up taking the first set and then went on to sweep Georgetown three sets to none.

“They had an aggressive serve on the line that got us a little shaken up. As you know, in collegiate volleyball, you can’t lose a lead like that, you can’t let another team back in,” freshman outside hitter Alyssa Sinnette said.

“It’s the same message that we’ve been talking about all year long,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams added. “We’re a very talented group. We need to learn how to sustain it. That’s a tough thing to ask them to do, for a number of reasons: injuries, class schedules, practice time, eight freshmen. It’s a tough job to be mentally strong all the time, but we’ve got to figure it out if we want to win.”

One positive from the match came in the first set. Play was stopped as freshman libero Kenzie Higareda was recognized for her 476th dig of the season, which set a new Georgetown single-season record. She received a large round of applause and cheers from all of her teammates.

“I had no idea. It was kind of a surprise,” Higareda said. “It means that I’m working really hard for my team and doing the best that I can.”

Williams praised the young libero’s efforts in both the game and throughout the season.

“I’ve been coaching a pretty long time, and I’ve seen a lot of very talented players over that time. Very rarely do we find a player with Kenzie’s mindset and attitude. She comes into the gym every single day to get better,” Williams said.

After that match, the Hoyas faced the Xavier Musketeers at 1 p.m. Sunday. Xavier, one of the conference’s top teams, came in confident, having beaten Georgetown in the teams’ previous matchup this season. However, the Hoyas stayed with the Musketeers point for point in the first two sets, though Georgetown eventually lost both. In the third set, Georgetown made a breakthrough, earning a hard-fought set to loud cheers from the McDonough crowd. Xavier went on to take the fourth set and the match, but Georgetown felt that the performance was a strong one.

“We know we can play with these teams, it’s just that we have to be able to sustain it,” senior outside hitter Lauren Saar, who recorded her 1000th career dig during the match, said.

Williams agreed with Saar’s characterization of the match.

“We played hard in spurts. There were moments that we had great energy and great effort, and you really see the results of that at the end of game three. The issue continues to be us doing that for long periods of time. If we play the way that we played game three the entire match, I think it’s a very different outcome.”

Next for the Hoyas is the season finale at home against Creighton (22-8, 16-1 Big East) this Friday at 8 p.m. Williams indicated she would be looking for a positive response against the Bluejays.

“We want to see that we have got the talent, we know that we can execute, but we’ve got to learn how to play with that energy, and that’s what we’re looking for from this week of practice and on Friday night: energy, effort, enthusiasm, encouragement, all of the intangibles,” Williams said.

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