File photo: Michelle xu/THE HOYA Senior libero Mackenzie Simpson won the tournament MVP at the Tiny Laster memorial Classic. This season, Simpson has played in 33 sets and has recorded a team high 153 digs.
FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
Senior libero Mackenzie Simpson won the tournament MVP at the Tiny Laster memorial Classic. This season, Simpson has played in 33 sets and has recorded a team high 153 digs.

Coming off mixed results in a group of matches against Presbyterian College (4-6), Hampton University (5-5) and George Washington (7-3), the Georgetown women’s volleyball team (6-4) will embark on a trip to the West Coast to compete with UCLA, California State Fullerton and Yale this weekend at the Fullerton Classic.

Last weekend was a successful one for the Hoyas. At the Tiny Laster Memorial Classic in Hampton, Va., Georgetown triumphed over both the Hampton University Pirates and the Presbyterian College Blue Hose in competitive three and four set matches, respectively. The Hoyas played the Pirates on Saturday and won the first, third and fourth set to notch the win. The two squads were neck and neck from the outset as Georgetown just barely edged out Hampton the first set with a final score of 25-23.

Georgetown fell in the second set 17-25, but came roaring back in the third, outscoring Hampton 25-18. The fourth set was even closer than the first, but the Hoyas came out on top again and captured the set and match with a score of 29-27.

FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Sophomore blocker Ashlie Williams won the tournament MVP award.
FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
Sophomore blocker Ashlie Williams won the tournament MVP award.

Georgetown went 2-0 on the weekend with a decisive win over Presbyterian the next day. In three tight sets the Hoyas overtook the Blue Hose with a come-from-behind third-set win.

Sophomore middle blocker Ashlie Williams put together a string of impressive performances which earned her the honor of tournament MVP. Head Coach Arlisa Williams was impressed with the entire team’s play in the two wins.
“The team demonstrated a lot of grit and a lot of fight,” Williams said. “It was a really good weekend for us. We had some players who really stepped up their game. Ashlie Williams did a great job … she hit incredibly well for us over the course of the two days. MacKenzie Simpson has done a great job as our libero digging balls and she had another great weekend.”

Williams and junior outside hitter Lauren Saar led the Hoyas with 13 kills against Presbyterian, while Simpson, a senior libero, had 14 digs. For the second week in a row, Saar was named to the Big East Honor Roll.

Unfortunately for the Hoyas, the weekend’s success did not transfer over to Tuesday’s match against George Washington. Typically competing with Georgetown’s cross-town rival elicits a heightened sense of excitement and enthusiasm, but that fervor wasn’t enough to lift the Hoyas over the Colonials. The Blue and Gray fell in three straight sets with a score of 22-25, 16-25, 6-25.

“We’re normally so up for this game and last year GWU was here and we thumped them in three, and this year they returned the favor,” Coach Williams said.

Among the main issues for the Hoyas in their match against GWU was maintaining a united mindset on the court and fixing up technicalities on both offense and defense.
“I thought that we had hit our stride, and I wish I could pull one positive piece from it, but the Hoyas imploded,” Coach Williams said. “I think the good thing is that we’ll come back from it and know that we are a talented team when all of us our on the same page. I think last night we learned that we have to be on the same page all the time. Statistically, we did not hit well, we did not block well, we did not serve well, we did not pass well, so it was a rough night all around.”

The Colonials shocked the Hoyas in the third set by limiting them to only six points. Williams attributes the shift in momentum to George Washington’s refreshed mindset and approach.

“The biggest change in the third set was that [GWU] came out with a very different mentality. They came out with the expectation to win and they jumped on us early. That mentality that [GWU] came out with was really the biggest game-changer,” Coach Williams said.

Now the Hoyas will need to make a quick recovery from their loss in their preparation for a tournament at Cal State Fullerton. No. 22 UCLA (6-2) will be Georgetown’s first opponent. The Bruins pose a threat to Hoyas with their aggressive playing style on offense and defense.

“They’re a very physical team. They are big, they are fast, they are talented and that’s going to be a good test for us,” Williams said. “I think some things we do well are that we’re a tough serving team, and so our focus will be serving them out of system to make them a little easier to guard. We are a good defensive team, digging balls behind the block, and so we’ll see how many balls we can get up in the air and work to transition.”

Georgetown will also compete with Cal State Fullerton (5-5) and Yale (2-4) in back-to-back matches Sunday.

“We’ll have the battle of the brains there and be duking it out all weekend; it’ll be an extremely competitive weekend for us,” Williams said.

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