CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA

The Georgetown volleyball team has officially started their 2013 campaign. Right now, it’s sitting comfortably at .500.  But they’re hungry for more.

“It’s about going out and playing Georgetown volleyball, and for us, that means just passionate, work hard, get-after-it volleyball,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said.

The Hoyas (2-2, 0-0 Big East) began on a high note with a 3-1 victory in the D.C. Challenge over cross-town rival George Mason (1-3, 0-0 Atlantic 10).

“Whenever we get a win under our belts, we’re pretty excited,” Williams said.  “It allows us to see the things we do well and also gives us a taste of what we still need to work on while we still have success.”

Junior Alex Johnson led the team with 19 kills, sophomore Lauren Saar contributed 14 and junior Dani White recorded a .440 attack percentage on her way to 13.  In her debut, freshman Ashlie Williams had one block and three kills.

“We don’t have one player that any team can focus on. They have to worry about all of us, and I don’t think that you can defend all five of us all the time,” Williams said.

Defensively, libero MacKenzie Simpson led the team with 19 digs, and the Hoyas fended off tough runs by the Patriots for their first victory of the season.

“The win over George Mason was huge,” Williams said.

In game two, the Blue and Gray took on American University (3-0, 0-0 Patriot League), who evened Georgetown’s record by winning in three sets.  However, Williams was pleased with the team’s execution.

“I think against American we actually did some things better than we did against George Mason,” she said.

Saar led the team with 11 kills and 7 digs, and freshman setter Caitlin Brauneis recorded 25 assists.

“You could see that we were trying to execute the game plan,” Williams said.  “We were more disciplined defensively, we were taking care of more balls passingwise.  They’re just huge, and they were really good.  I do think that we actually stepped up our level of play, but it was against tougher competition.”

With that elevated play, the Hoyas then faced Howard, winning 3-1.

“That was just taking care of the details from the beginning to the end,” Williams said.

Johnson led the Hoyas with 17 kills, and White added 14; key plays from Ashlie Williams, Simpson and redshirt senior Annalee Abell clinched the victory.

“We’re seeing big swings from [Abell] and [White], Alex Johnson is doing a great job for us on the outside, Lauren Saar’s passing nails, [Simpson’s] digging balls and we’re serving tough,” Williams said.

On Tuesday, the Hoyas travelled to Virginia to take on Liberty (1-3), who was seeking its first win.  Georgetown lost three sets to one, dropping to 2-2, but the match was tight into the final points of each set.

“I think that at times we showed true heart.  You can tell that these players love this program, they love being out on the floor and they’re fighters,” Williams said.

Again, multiple Hoyas made strong contributions on the floor.  Johnson had 16 kills and 12 digs, Saar added 11 kills and 17 digs, White had 10 kills and Abell had a season-best 13. Simpson continued to be a game-changing presence  with 18 digs.

“We were in there neck and neck. They’re used to winning, and they were at home,” Williams said. “So I think that it speaks very highly to our group that we’re in there competing with a team like Liberty.”

Now with their first four games under their belt, White feels that the team has reached a turning point.

“I think we definitely know what we need to work on to move forward with the season, but we’re looking really good,” White said. Georgetown will move forward in the Campbell Tournament this weekend, where they first face Indiana State (2-1) coming off a sweep of Chicago State.

“We’re hyped, excited,” White said. “Indiana’s going to be a great match on Friday.”

The Hoyas will then move on to North Carolina Central, a team that has yet to record a win this season. But that doesn’t matter to Williams.

“I think that we approach the match the same way that we approach every match that we play.  We’re going to go out there and play Georgetown volleyball and try to take care of business,” she said.

The final tournament match is against host Campbell (2-2, 0-0 Big South).

“I think the home team still has a little bit of an advantage, and we’re going to try to squash that,” Williams said.

In that spirit, White asserts that Georgetown is coming out fired up and ready to win.

“[We’re] always hungry for competition.  Never back down from anybody, we’re a team that likes to get after it.  Prove people wrong,” Williams said.

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