FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Junior outside hitter Lauren Saar has played in all 20 matches this season, starting 16. She is fourth on the team with 133 kills, averaging 1.99 kills per set. Saar is also third on the team in digs with 171, good for 2.55 per set.
FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
Junior outside hitter Lauren Saar has played in all 20 matches this season, starting 16. She is fourth on the team with 133 kills, averaging 1.99 kills per set. Saar is also third on the team in digs with 171, good for 2.55 per set.

The Georgetown volleyball team (7-13, 1-6 Big East) is optimistic as it heads into Friday’s matchup against the struggling Providence Friars (4-17, 0-7 Big East). The Friars travel to the Hilltop in the wake of their eighth straight loss, a fact that junior outside hitter Lauren Saar vows will not alter the team’s preparation.

“We respect every team and just try to take care of our side. If we play Georgetown volleyball, the rest takes care of itself,” Saar said.

Ninth-year Head Coach Arlisa Williams explained the team’s preparation for facing the Providence lineup.

“We have something in our conference called open tape exchange, so I have video for how Providence is playing. … We can make a game plan based on the video we scouted them with,” Coach Williams said.

The Hoyas will lean on freshmen standouts Terese Cannon and Casey Speer as they head deeper into conference play. Cannon, a 6-foot-3-inch outside hitter, is well regarded by teammates and coaches alike. Fresh off a Seton Hall match in which she notched match highs of 20 kills and nine digs, the young Hoya’s athletic ability can change the complexion of a game.

“Terese can bring something that we didn’t have on the outside. She’s brushing over 10 feet on her jumps,” Coach Williams said.

Speer, who has found time on the court as a defensive specialist, libero and setter, is another x-factor vital to Georgetown’s immediate and long-term future success. The 5-foot-7-inch versatile player tallied 50 assists in last Saturday’s loss to Seton Hall (17-3, 7-0 Big East).

Senior libero and captain MacKenzie Simpson also heaped praise on the impact freshmen.

“Both Terese and Casey just set high expectations for themselves, and we all try to hold each other to a higher standard,” Simpson said.

On top of its energizing young talent, Georgetown volleyball has enjoyed strong performances from its veterans.

Senior middle blocker Dani White recently secured 1000 career kills in a four-set loss against Villanova (10-12, 3-4 Big East) on Oct. 10, just a week after senior outside hitter Alex Johnson reached the same feat. Though the milestones offer an affirmation of the excellence and hard work of individuals, Coach Williams reinforces the team’s commitment to each other over any sort of personal record.

“I’m very excited for our players who have reached milestones or are getting close to them, but I think everything we achieve is a team effort, and every one of our players is pulling hard,” Coach Williams said. “In our program we don’t really focus on the individual milestones right now, but we focus on what we need to do at this game to be successful.”

Despite the development of the freshmen and the career achievements of White and Johnson, the team has struggled of late. Georgetown just recently snapped an eight-match losing streak and has won just one conference game in seven tries. The Hoyas’ longest win streak is just two games, which they have managed three times over the course of the year.

Establishing team-wide consistency is the most important key to Georgetown’s future success.

“Our thing right now is staying consistent. Every single one of our players has it in them to do very good things on the court,” Coach Williams said.

Though last Saturday’s match with Seton Hall resulted in a 3-1 loss, the Hoyas played well, with strong performances across the board. Seton Hall, (17-3, 7-0 Big East) is this year’s conference team to beat, featuring a strong roster headed by senior Ashani Rubin, the Big East Defensive Player of the Week.

Hoya sophomore middle blocker Ashlie Williams believes the squad has the momentum to steer matters in the right direction.

“Everyone performed really well at Seton Hall and that gave me more motivation and confidence,” Williams said. “If everyone steps up for this next match we can see some big improvement.”

The Hoyas will be favored to pick up an important victory against the Friars on Friday at McDonough Arena at 12 p.m.

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