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Liberty takes Hoyas down for another loss
“It’s a whole new season for us. We’re just ready to shake it off and refocus at practice and play better.” Wise words from junior setter Haley Lowrance, as the Georgetown women’s volleyball team (6-7) fell to the Flames of Liberty (9-4) in the home opener at McDonough Arena on Tuesday.
After losing 25-21 in a close first set and putting in a solid 25-18 performance in the second set, the Hoyas crumbled after being edged out 28-26 in the third. Liberty cleaned up in the final set to hand Georgetown its sixth straight loss.
In the face of the disappointing loss, Head Coach Arlisa Williams looked at positive individual improvements. She praised junior opposite Annalee Abell’s and sophomore outside hitter Dani White’s aggression at the net, describing their play as “huge.” Between the pair of them, Abell and White racked up an impressive 31 kills.
But, as Lowrance points out, volleyball matches aren’t won by individuals. “It’s a team sport. As long as we can support each other we should be able to pull it out.”
While the team’s communication lacked at points in this game, manifest in unforced rotation errors and blocking miscues in the front court, the team clearly has chemistry. But both Lowrance and Williams hope their communication will improve as the team heads into Big East play against St. John’s on Friday.
“The team does mesh very well. We had a real tough preseason [schedule] which helps everyone bond together and pick each other up. Communication will only get better from here,” Lowrance said.
“I think that we can communicate a little bit more effectively,” Williams added.
Unfortunately for the Hoyas, chatter wasn’t the only thing that was lacking against the Flames. Blocking, serving tougher, and eliminating unforced errors like missed serves and doubles are all areas where the team could use improvement.
The team managed only seven blocks in four sets. In preparing for St. John’s, Coach Williams said that the team’s focus at practice “is going to be on our block set up and our block timing,” both of which rely on senior middle blocker Lindsay Wise. She had one roof against Liberty, but if the team wants any hope of reaching the Big East Tournament, she needs to demonstrate her experience and step up her penetration at the net.
From the backline, the Hoyas served four aces against five errors on Tuesday. While her jump float is one of the more formidable assets from the service line, Lowrance admitted that the team has room for improvement in its serve. “Sometime, especially if we’re down, we tend to get timid at the service line. We just really want to get it in, as long as you have confidence in yourself back there … go after them. If you can hit them in the face, awesome.”
Greater ferocity from the line is an admirable aim, but it’s yet to be seen if the Hoyas can translate their setter’s sentiments onto the court. Other than Lowrance and sophomore outside hitter Alex Johnson, none of the Hoyas has displayed the ability to consistently threaten aces.
Endurance is another obstacle for the squad. The team have yet to win a match that went to five sets, and the scoreboard suggests the girls are fatigued by the time the later sets roll around. “I hope that we have the stamina to win those games, but strength and conditioning is an area we focus on,” Williams said when asked about future Big East play. She suggested more reps in the gym, and sprint training to better prepare her team for the behemoth of the Big East.
For Williams, however, nothing outweighs the need to eliminate silly errors, of which there were 33 against Liberty. “We have got to reduce that number if we’re going to be successful,” she said.
It’s hard to say if the Hoyas have it in them to best last year’s middling record of 14-13 overall and 6-8 in the Big East. As Lowrance pointed out, “Volleyball is a game of momentum.” And right now, the Hoyas are in desperate need of recapturing it.