Georgetown Volleyball Readies for New Season, DC Challenge
Aug 29, 2013
WASHINGTON – The BIG EAST Conference might have a new look this year, but the Georgetown women’s volleyball team returns for the 2013 season with experience and familiarity. The Hoyas return leaders across the board from the previous season who put the Blue & Gray in a position to improve.
Head Coach Arlisa Williams’ squad is accomplished and talent-laden, led by 2013 Preseason All-BIG EAST honoree, Dani White. White returns for her junior season after setting career highs with 306 kills and a team-best 107 blocks at the net. The Mission Viejo, Calif., native hit .303 last season at the middle blocker position for the Hoyas.
The important role of the outside hitter will likely be a strong suit for the Hoyas this season, as the unit is one of the most experienced on the team. Junior Alex Johnson led Georgetown with 333 kills a year ago, and was second on the team with 285 digs.
Brooke Bachesta brings powerful depth to the lineup, as the rising junior looks to carry over success from her sophomore campaign. Bachesta had an impressive 117 kills in 66 sets played and added 44 digs.
Lauren Saar and Elizabeth Riggins also will compete for playing time on the outside for the Hoyas. As a freshman, Saar was among the team leaders in 2012 with 194 digs, while adding 126 kills in just 71 sets played. Riggins, a redshirt junior this season, will be looked to for leadership in the rotation. The California native has amassed 259 kills in her time on the Hilltop, despite sitting out her sophomore season.
On the right side, Georgetown features a wealth of talent and youth, but is led by redshirt senior Annalee Abell. After suffering a knee injury in her career, Abell has made it all the way back to provide a spark for the Blue & Gray at the pins, accounting for 137 kills last season.
Sophomore Alyssa Gerardi and freshman Shannon Ellis both join Abell on the right side. Gerardi did not see any matches in 2012, but she and Ellis – who boasted a decorated high school career in Friendship, Texas – both bring much-needed talent and depth.
At the important setter position, junior Kieley Culbertson will compete for playing time alongside two newcomers in Erin NaPier and Caitlin Brauneis. Culbertson did not appear for the Hoyas in 2012, but compiled 13 assists and four kills. NaPier and Brauneis each bring a wealth of talent to Georgetown after successful high school careers.
At libero, MacKenzie Simpson led the Hoyas a season ago with 397 digs, adding six kills and 38 assists in 102 sets played.
Along with Simpson, Whitney Jencks and Emily Gisolfi will both be impactful for GU in the rotation at libero and as defensive specialists. Jencks, a redshirt senior, was among the team’s top-six as far as digs are concerned in 2012, compiling 124 in 83 sets. As a rising sophomore, Gisolfi should see more playing time after playing in 74 sets last year. The Allentown, Pa., native corralled 158 digs for the Hoyas as a freshman, establishing herself as a potential force in the middle of the court.
With the pieces coming together on the court, Georgetown turns its attention to making continual improvements as a team. A tough test lies ahead, however, as the Hoyas will contend with four teams that finished in the top-60 in the final 2012 RPI. The Blue & Gray will run head-first into a tough nonconference slate, facing the likes of Florida, Liberty and Western Michigan, before an even tougher BIG EAST season begins.
The DC Challenge (Aug. 30-31) starts things off, followed by the Campbell Tournament (Sept. 6-7) in Buies Creek, N.C. The first match in the comforts of McDonough Arena comes Sept. 11 when crosstown foe George Washington pays a visit. Two more tournaments – the Active Ankle Challenge hosted by Florida and the Gold & Blue Players Challenge in Morgantown, W.Va. – stand in the way before the BIG EAST slate starts with Villanova on Sept. 28.
With nine teams in the conference, Georgetown will play a home-and-home series with all eight other schools, including newcomers Creighton – already pulling a top-25 nod from the coaches nationally –Butler and Xavier.