Volleyball | Sinette, McKnight Lead GU in Close Win over Georgia

COURTESY GEORGETOWN SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE Freshman setter Paige McKnight (4) had 42 assists and 13 digs and freshman middle blocker Symone Speech added 15 kills against Georgia.

Freshman setter Paige McKnight (4) had 42 assists and 13 digs and freshman middle blocker Symone Speech added 15 kills against Georgia.

Just two days after sweeping Morgan State (2-9) on a Tuesday night, the Georgetown volleyball team (4-5) traveled to a university 800 miles away from home on its farthest road trip yet to compete against one of its toughest tournaments of the season. Facing Kent State (5-4) and Georgia (4-5), Georgetown sought to gain experience during the nonconference part of its schedule and to build on the two-game winning streak it had going into the weekend matches.

Though Georgetown fell to Kent State in four sets at the outset of the UW-Madison Tournament in Madison, Wis. Sept. 10, the Hoyas fought back one day later, defeating Georgia in four tight sets.

The Hoyas’ 3-1 effort over the Bulldogs marks Georgetown’s first victory over an opponent in one of the Power Five conferences since the 2012-13 season, when Georgetown defeated Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Virginia in three straight sets.

Head Coach Arlisa Williams attributed the victory to the team working hard and coming together as a unit, but added that facing one of the team’s toughest opponents this season made for a meaningful match.

“It’s a huge win, just being able to defeat an opponent from the Big Five, coming out of the [Southeastern] Conference,” Williams said. “Georgia’s been an NCAA Tournament team; this was a very significant win for us.”

Freshman outside hitter Alyssa Sinnette and freshman setter Paige McKnight epitomized Georgetown’s effort against Georgia, with both players earning double-doubles in the match. Sinnette led the team offensively, earning 22 kills in addition to diving for 12 digs. McKnight contributed 42 assists and 13 digs, as well as six service aces, the most service aces recorded for a Georgetown player since 2012.

Sinnette, whose 133 total kills and 3.80 kills per set are team highs this season, noted that the victory was particularly important for her and her teammates as evidence of the team’s resilience following a 3-1 loss to Kent State the night before.

“After we lost to Kent State, for us to come back together, be even stronger and beat Georgia was huge,” Sinnette said.

Freshman middle blocker Symone Speech also contributed offensively over the weekend, recording a .414 hitting percentage against Georgia and slamming down a match-high 13 kills in the loss to Kent State. Speech currently leads the team with a .337 hitting percentage on the season, a statistic that Speech credits to being ready to hit for the team at any given moment.

“[Coach Williams] always wants me to be an option, so I’ve just been really working on that — getting up when I can, calling my hits, trying to be available for Paige,” Speech said.

The match against Georgia was tight from end to end, beginning with a 6-6 tie to open the first set of the game. The Hoyas won the first two sets with scores of 25-22 and 25-23, respectively, and dropped the third set in a tight 29-27 game. Georgetown sealed its victory by winning the fourth set 28-26.

Georgetown will wind down its nonconference schedule with one match against D.C. rival George Washington (6-4) this Wednesday followed by its final nonconference tournament this weekend.

The Colonials boast a sharpshooting middle blocker in junior Chidima Osuchukwu, who currently has a .350 hitting percentage in addition to a team-high 4.29 kills per set. In addition, senior setter Jordan Timmer averages 11.29 assists per set and senior defensive specialist Maddy Doyle records an average of 4.05 digs per set.

The Wednesday evening matchup against the Atlantic 10 team will be Georgetown’s first match in McDonough Arena this season, and, for many of the players, the first home game of their college careers.

“I’m a little nervous because it’s family and friends; it’s going to be a lot of people. But it’s good energy, good nervous energy,” Sinnette said. “I can’t wait for people here to see how far the volleyball program has come and how far it’s going to go.”

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