Fresh off last Tuesday’s thriller in which they rallied from two sets down to shock UMBC, the Hoyas (11-7, 1-1 Big East) shifted gears in preparation for homecoming weekend and the start of Big East competition.

Friday night was the toughest test of the season for the Blue and Gray, as undefeated Syracuse (17-0, 1-0) came to McDonough Arena looking to prove they were the stronger of two red hot volleyball squads. Georgetown was relentless in a tight first set, led by key kills from middle blockers senior Vanessa Dorismond and sophomore Lindsay Wise. Six kills from senior outside hitter Kortney Robinson propelled the hosts to a 25-20 victory in the opening set.

Despite the strong start, Georgetown was unable to sustain its early momentum. Although they kept it close throughout, the second and third sets featured the Hoyas playing almost exclusively from behind. Slim, early-set leads by the Orange were quickly equalized, yet five consecutive unforced Hoya errors in the second set shifted the momentum significantly. Georgetown was unable to recover, as Syracuse cruised to a 25-18 second-set win and never looked back.

The third set did not remedy Georgetown’s sloppy play, as Syracuse continued to feast on the opposition’s unforced errors. While the Hoyas hung tight through the set’s first 18 points, eventually tying the score at 9-9, they ultimately fell again, 25-18.

“We started off so strong and played so well, and then Syracuse stepped their game up a bit and we just did not respond to the challenge at all,” Head Coach Arlisa Williams said. “It think it was more our mental game that we were lacking more than anything else on Friday night.”

Dorismond continued her strong individual performance in the fourth and final set, looking to provide a spark by posting six of her match-high 13 kills. Her efforts were insufficient, though, as Syracuse did not let up en route to winning by their biggest margin of the match, 25-14. The Orange closed out the fourth set, and ultimately the match, by winning 11 of the final 16 points.

“We just had a huge meltdown. We had a lot of unforced errors and could not find the court to serve in to, and it makes it really difficult when we are making that many errors against a good team,” Williams said.

Robinson and Wise finished Friday night with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

After an off-day on Saturday, Georgetown took their home court again Sunday against Marquette University (7-7, 0-2) looking to bounce back from Friday night’s disappointing defeat. Sounder hitting and minimized errors afforded the Hoyas a grueling, five-set match victory over the Golden Eagles (25-22, 24-26, 17-25, 25-21, 15-11). Perseverance and unwavering aggression in fifth-set tiebreakers have been hallmarks of this year’s team and have allowed Georgetown to currently sit at four games above .500 after beginning the season 2-5.

A riveting first set boasted 14 ties and seven lead changes, but the Hoyas came out with the 1-0 upper hand in the match. With Marquette facing game point at 20-24 in the second set, though, momentum shifted suddenly away from Georgetown as the visitors rallied off six consecutive points to steal the set. Marquette continued to ride their advantage in the fourth set, too, taking it handily by eight points.

Wise finally stopped the bleeding with a kill to give Georgetown its first point in the fourth set, which Marquette had blown wide open with an early 6-0 lead. After then going down 12-3, the Hoyas rallied to gain an 18-17 advantage – a lead they would not relinquish. This forced a decisive fifth set, in which the Blue and Gray hit .500 to win the match. The victory was Georgetown’s first in-league win of the season.

“A number of things happened,” Williams said when asked how the Hoyas were able to recover from Friday’s disappointment to overcome Marquette’s 2-1 set lead. “On Saturday, we had video and practice, and what we showed in video was different than what we typically do. We showed what we did well against Syracuse. I wanted them to have in their mind what our team looked like when we are playing a steady, solid volleyball game. I just kept reminding the players and they were reminding each other, `This is what we look like when we play good, Hoya volleyball,’ and they went back to that.”

The offensive tandem of Dorismond and Robinson continued to sizzle, as each recorded 13 kills against Marquette. Samantha Trauth came up with 13 kills and 14 digs for the Hoyas.

Georgetown continues its homestand this Friday when it plays host to Big East foe DePaul. Match time is set for 7 p.m.

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