Photo by John Nakano

Last weekend the Jackets women’s volleyball team took its talent out west to Albuquerque, N.M. to compete in the Lobo Classic. The team was up against three unfamiliar opponents in Idaho State, UC Riverside and New Mexico, all of whom created matchups never before seen in the history of the program. After the opening weekend of the season at the Georgia Tech Invitational, the Jackets came into the Lobo Classic with high expectations sporting a 2-1 record.

Tech’s first match on Friday afternoon against the Idaho State Bengals was a highly contested one. Though the Jackets lost three straight sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-20) the scoreboard isn’t necessarily indicative of how closely the teams were matched as the first and second sets were relatively even until the home stretches when Idaho State managed to pull ahead. In the third and final set, however, the Bengals defense came alive to hold the Jackets to a paltry eight kills for the set.

The bright spot for the opening game of the weekend was senior setter Kaleigh Colson, who finished with a double-double of 19 assists and 12 digs while also finishing as the most accurate player with a stellar .556 hitting percentage for the match.

After a brief period of rest, the players once again suited up for their second match of the day, this time against the UC Riverside Highlanders. If the team was tired, their performance certainly didn’t show it as this time the Jackets were the victors in the back and forth match, 3-1 (25-17, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20).

Led by senior outside hitter Jennifer Percy, who amassed a game-high 13 kills on a .265 hitting percentage, the Jackets took the first two sets with the first set consisting of nine ties and four lead changes. Freshman London Ackermann and sophomore Wimberly Wilson were very active in their defensive behavior with 12 and 10 digs, respectively.

UC Riverside fought back to claim the third set, and the Highlanders used that momentum to carry themselves to a 13-7 lead in the fourth. Tech responded with an inspired nine point run to give themselves a lead in the set. Tech kept the lead continued until the very end of the match.

In the tournament finale, Tech faced off against the host team, the New Mexico Lobos. The Jackets were off to a great start as they won the first set and took an early lead in the second. A determined and consistent New Mexico recovered to regain the lead and proceeded to win the next three sets as Tech lost 3-1 (17-25, 25-16, 25-27, 23-25).

The last two sets were both excruciatingly close, and if just a couple of breaks had gone the Jackets’ way they could very well be coming out of the weekend with a record of 4-2 instead of 3-3. In the last game, freshman setter Rebecca Martin tallied a team high 22 assists, and Jennifer Percy capped off a strong weekend performance with 12 kills and was named to the all-tournament team.

Just six games into the season, the team is still coming together and creating its identity. There were many positives to encourage coach Tonya Johnson as she looks forward to ACC play. Look for the Jackets to return to the court this Friday, Sept. 13 when they host St. John’s at 7 p.m..