Aug 30, 2013
FAIRFAX, Va. - It took four hotly contested sets, but the Georgetown women's volleyball team opened the season with a solid victory against the George Mason Patriots, 3-1, taking the first game in the annual DC Challenge.
Georgetown was led on the court by a trio of Hoyas who tallied double-digit kills. Alex Johnson led the way with 19 of her own, followed by Lauren Saar who accounted for 14 kills and by Preseason All-BIG EAST squad member, Dani White who had 13 at an impressive .440 attack clip.
"I think it was a really good first showing for us," Head Coach Arlisa Williams said after the game. "Alex Johnson and Lauren Saar did a nice job on the outside. We got our middles going late and had good execution from both Dani White and Ashlie Williams."
Defensively the Hoyas were stout as well. MacKenzie Simpson brought her game and helped out with 19 digs and White paced the squad with six blocks. Newcomer Ashlie Williams added the team's only solo block of the night and three kills of her own in her debut.
The Hoyas got off to a rocking start, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead in the opening set thanks to a pair of kills from Lauren Saar, coupled with a kill and block from White.
Behind Lana Zonjic, however, Mason was able knot things at 6-6, threatening Georgetown with momentum. Back and forth it went for the next eight points, but an Alex Johnson kill, putting the Blue & Gray up 11-10, sparked a 9-1 run in the visitors' favor. For her part, Johnson added three service aces during that stretch.
With a 21-14 lead, the Hoyas needed to fend off one last Patriot run as Mason eventually sliced the lead to 22-19 and then 24-23 with the help of a few errors, but GU capitalized after Williams called a timeout and White smashed home the set-winner on a clean set from freshman Caitlin Brauneis.
Once again, Georgetown pounced out to a 4-1 lead as the second set opened, but Mason grabbed its first lead of the evening, subsequently taking an 8-7 and then 15-12 lead behind a couple of Hoya attack errors.
But the Hoyas kept the Patriots on their toes, as White and Johnson helped to stem the tide and take an 18-16 lead. After another GMU run put the DC Challenge hosts up 20-18, kills from Saar and Johnson pulled the Blue & Gray within a point at 22-21, but four kills from four different Patriots tied the match at an even 1-1 into the third set.
For the third time in three tries, Georgetown hopped out to a quick 4-1 lead to start a set, all points coming off kills from the tough tandem of White and Johnson. Mason evened the ledger at 5-5 and eventually 11-11 after a nice run of points gave them momentum, but Johnson, White and Saar to took the reigns and gave the Hoyas a 20-13 lead after some terrific play between the pins.
Brauneis got into the action again to put GU up 21-13, but Mason strung together a run of five consecutive points to bring the game within three at 21-18. Fortunately for Georgetown though, three Mason errors and a set-clinching kill from senior Annalee Abell gave the Hoyas a 2-1 advantage into the fourth frame with her sixth of the night.
Unable to take an early lead for the fourth time Friday night, Georgetown found itself in a quick, but shallow, 5-4 hole. In what was one of the more contested sets of the evening, the two squads battled back and forth to a 9-9 tie, but thanks to excellent serving from Emily Gisolfi, the Hoyas attacked and gained a 13-9 advantage.
"We had good help from Emily coming in the back row in the second, third and fourth sets with her great serve to keep George Mason out of system," Williams said.
Up 18-15, Georgetown used two George Mason service errors to pull ahead to 20-16. Back-to-back kills from Johnson and White put the Hoyas in the driver seat for good as GU claimed four of the last seven points, including the clinching kill from Saar to claim the match, 3-1, behind a 25-20 fourth set.
The Hoyas have opened up the season 1-0 for the third year in a row and look to complete their second sweep of the DC Challenge with a pair of contests tomorrow at American University against the Eagles and Howard Bison at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.