Photo by John Nanako

Michelle Collier heads into her second season as head volleyball coach of the Jackets at Tech after leading a successful program in 2014. Collier aided the team in improvements in almost every statistical category during her introductory year as the eighth head coach at Tech.

These improvements were crucial to the team’s 13-18 cumulative season record in 2014. Volleyball fans are looking forward to another year of improvement with Collier paving the road to future success.

Early April, Collier was pleased to announce that three new student athletes would be signed to compete for the Jackets.  The team welcomed Anna Kavalchuk (Minsk, Belarus), Hellen Lacava (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Gabrielle Benda (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Coach Collier is confident that these three student athletes will mesh well with the team and be great assets to an outstanding season in 2015.

In addition to signing three new student athletes, Tech volleyball welcomes freshman Lauren Frerkling of Johns Creek, GA, to the team and welcomes back eight returning athletes.

Returning Jackets look forward to being more competitive on the court this season. The team’s hitters — junior Teegan Van Gunst and sophomores Ashley Askin, Gabriela Stavnetchei, and Anna Kavalchuk — hope to move up this season from 12th in the ACC for kills (12.75 kills per match) and hitting percentage (0.216) after their 2014 season.

After an exemplary season in 2014 and being named to the All-ACC Academic Team, Teegan Van Gunst returns this season and is expected to lead the team in kills as she did in 2014 with 3.32 kills per set.

Teegan’s twin sister Annika, also named All-ACC Academic Team last season, returns this season as a middle blocker. Annika holds the record for the second most kills in the 2014 season with 326 kills. The Van Gunst twins, a formidable pair on the court and invaluable assets to the team, make up one of the many crucial links in Tech’s Women’s Volleyball team.

With matches against six 2014 NCAA Tournament participants and a record high of 14 matches broadcast on the ACC regional network or on ESPN3  this year, every link is going to be important in maintaining a level of high competitive performance in this year’s season.

The Jackets enter the season with four talented middle blockers.  Returning sophomore Sydney Wilson led the team last season with a total of 104 blocks. Junior Lauren Pitz returns with a record of 73 blocks and an impressive 105 kills. Annika Van Gunst and Lauren Frerkling complete the Jacket’s four player powerhouse of middle blockers.

Returning junior London Ackermann and senior Wimberly Wilson complete the team as the defensive specialists. Ackermann reached a career high of 27 digs in last season’s match against North Carolina State (Oct. 10) and tallied six matches with over 20 digs.  Wilson returns after playing 64 sets last season and matching her career high in aces — three aces — against Gardner-Webb last August.

With experience on their side, Ackermann and Wilson will continue to the aid the Jackets in bringing in many victories this season.

The Jackets will open this season with the Gold/White Scrimmage held in O’Keefe Gym on Saturday Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. The scrimmage will be a great chance for the jackets to hone their team skills and cohesiveness on the court before the GT Courtyard by Mariott Atlanta Midtown Invite next weekend. Tech will welcome Siena, Coastal Carolina, Tennessee-Martin and the Citadel to the invite.