WASHINGTON - Georgetown University's volleyball team opened its home schedule with a 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-11, 22-25, 15-6) loss to visiting James Madison on the opening day of the Georgetown Classic. The Hoyas fall to 5-2 on the season while the Dukes remain undefeated at 7-0.
Three Hoyas tallied double-digit kills in the loss, led by Olivia King (Ardmore, Pa./Lower Marion) with a match-high 12. Symone Speech (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest) added 11 and Madison Smith (Elk Grove, Calif./Elk Grove) chipped in a career-best 10. Paige McKnight (Atlanta, Ga./Dunwoody) paced the offense with a match-high 35 assists.
Defensively, Kenzie Higareda (Woodbridge, Va./Forest Park) anchored the back row with 18 digs while McKnight was just one dig shy of a double-double with nine. Both Speech and Alyssa Sinnette (Pearland, Texas/Dawson) recorded four blocks at the net and Aima Eichie (Castle Rock, Colo./Rock Canyon/UC Davis) added three.
James Madison claimed early control of the opening frame, jumping to a 6-2 lead before the Hoyas responded with a 4-1 run to pull within one down, 7-6. The Dukes answered back with a 10-1 spurt of their own to force a GU timeout and take a 17-7 advantage. King then came off the bench to provide a spark for the Blue & Gray behind a 4-1 run, capped by a service ace from the junior, but JMU answered back with four unanswered points to lead 21-11 and force another GU timeout. Refusing to quit, Georgetown put together a 7-0 run coming out of the huddle to pull within three, at 21-18, but JMU closed out the frame on a 5-2 run.
The second set flipped the script, as GU jumped out to an early 7-2 lead on a King kill to force a Dukes timeout and the Hoyas would increase their advantage to 10-2. King and Smith were a force to be reckoned with, combining for 10 of Georgetown's 15 kills in the set. James Madison wouldn't be able to get any closer than three points the rest of the set, thanks in part to the offensive prowess of the duo as well as the defensive efforts of McKnight and Higareda who also combined for 10 digs in the stanza.
James Madison had its best offensive performance in the third set. The Dukes hit .429 as a team, collected 10 kills and committed a lone attack error. Speech and Smith both had three kills in the frame but it wasn't enough to hold off the JMU attack.
A tight back-and-forth battle in the fourth set saw four early ties before the Hoyas broke through to take an 8-7 lead on a Sinnette kill. Georgetown would put together an 8-3 run to take a 16-10 advantage and hold off a late JMU surge to force a fifth and deciding set. Three different Hoyas notched three kills in the frame.
In the final set, the Dukes took the initial lead up 5-0 and pushed their advantage to 10-2 to force Georgetown to call its final timeout. The Hoyas nearly matched their guests point for point the rest of the way, but couldn't make up the deficit in the truncated frame.
M'Kalea White paced James Madison with 11 kills while Bryn Recker added 10.
Georgetown returns to action with a pair of matches on Saturday. The Hoyas take on Coppin State at 1 p.m. before closing out the Georgetown Classic against Buffalo at 7 p.m. Live stats and video for both matches can be found online at www.GUhoyas.com with Monika Moore providing the play-by-play.