WASHINGTON - Georgetown University’s volleyball team returns to action this weekend as it opens its home schedule with the Georgetown Classic. The Hoyas welcome James Madison, Coppin State and Buffalo to the friendly confines of McDonough Arena on Friday and Saturday.
A near-annual tradition on the Hilltop since 1986, the Classic returned to campus in 2016 following a brief hiatus. Georgetown has gone 50-21 all-time in the event including 11 undefeated weekends.
Georgetown is coming off a 3-0 weekend, winning the Service Academy Challenge with a trio of sweeps over The Citadel, Columbia and Army West Point. Junior middle blocker Symone Speech (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest) was named to the BIG EAST weekly honor roll after averaging 3.33 kills and 1.89 blocks per set while hitting at an impressive .491 clip.
The Blue & Gray has gone 5-1 to open the season, its best start since the 2012 campaign.
Speech leads the Hoyas with 3.91 kills per set while Alyssa Sinnette (Pearland, Texas/Dawson) adds 2.57 kps from the outside. Graduate student Aima Eichie (Castle Rock, Colo./Rock Canyon/UC Davis) and freshman Riley Wertzberger (Dallas, Texas/Richardson) both chip in 1.86 kills a frame. Junior setter Paige McKnight (Atlanta, Ga./Dunwoody) paces the offense with 9.39 assists per game.
Three Hoyas have notched at least five service aces so far this season, led by Kenzie Higareda (Woodbridge, Va./Forest Park) with seven and both Madison Smith (Elk Grove, Calif./Elk Grove) and Wertzberger with five each.
Defensively, Higareda anchors the back row with 4.17 digs per set with McKnight hauling in an even three digs a stanza. Eichie (0.64 bps) and McKnight (0.52 bps) are both among the block leaders at net.
James Madison comes to the Nation’s Capital with a 6-0 record following a pair of home tournaments. The Dukes are led by Bryn Recker’s 3.25 kps while Briley Brind’Amour and M’Kaela White add 2.75 and 2.20 a set, respectively. Taylor Austin is averaging 6.30 digs per set and both Taylor Gail and White average at least a block a frame.
The Hoyas are 9-2 all-time against the Dukes. Georgetown’s last win against JMU came in a five-set thriller in 2011 to cap six-straight wins in the series by the Blue & Gray dating back to 1993.
Saturday’s action for GU begins with a mid-day match with Coppin State. Asia Stennis leads the Eagles with 3.53 kps while Angel Hamerson and Marlena Guice add 1.75 and 1.62, respectively. Four CSU players average more than two digs per set, led by Glorines Rosado with 4.56 digs per set.
Georgetown has only faced Coppin State twice in program history, sweeping the Eagles in both 1989 and 2003.
The Hoyas wrap up the event against Buffalo. Polina Prokudina paces the Bulls with 4.48 kps while Andrea Mitrovic chips in 3.62 kills a stanza. Scout McLerran runs the offense and averages 10.05 assists per set while Larra Bickelhaupt anchors the back row defensively with 3.48 digs per set.
Georgetown and Buffalo have only met once before on the court with the Blue & Gray posting a 3-0 sweep over the Bulls in 1994.
Following the weekend’s Georgetown Classic, the Hoyas return to action next weekend at the Rice adidas Invitational II in Houston, Texas. The Blue & Gray takes on Arkansas State and Stephen F. Austin on Friday before facing the host Owls on Saturday.