The Tech volleyball team walked through the first two matches of the Regency Suites Tournament, but fell just short against No. 25 Michigan in the fifth set.
Against Xavier, the Jackets paced themselves with a balanced offense. Six players contributed at least five kills. Callie Miller and Talisa Kellogg led the offense with nine kills each. Michelle Kandell helped the team with 20 digs while the setter Allie Niekamp posted a double-double in assists and digs.
The Jackets were led by Kellogg’s .625 hitting percentage in the first set. In the second set, the team cruised to a 25-19 victory. Back-to-back kills by Kellogg and Brittany Roderick and a block by Kellogg sealed the game for the Jackets.
“I think Michelle Kandell, our libero, is by far stepping it up by digging, breaking records almost every single game. Allie, our setter, is really keeping us steady by making smart decisions,” said Kellogg, the team’s senior outside hitter.
The Jackets went neck-and-neck against Michigan for the tournament title. Throughout the five sets, four of the Jackets had double digit kills while two contributed at least 10 digs.
Niekamp helped with 47 assists, and Kellogg led with 14 kills. Once again, Tech’s defensive play showed through with 18 blocks.
“Alison Campbell has been playing the other outside hitter’s spot and has done an awesome job. She has been steady and we can depend on her. [Hunter] played earlier when I wasn’t a full go because I was injured. Lisa came in passing and hitting. So, we had great contributions from all three freshmen,” Kellogg said.
The Jackets started the match fast by hitting .357 as a team. After losing the second set, Tech regained composure in the third set by tieing the score 10 different times.
With kills, Kellogg and Alison Campbell combined for six of the last eight points. A kill by Asia Stawicka and service ace for Kandell sealed the third set. The Jackets were outpaced in the fourth and fifth sets while being held below .200 hitting. The final set ended 13-15 with a loss for the Yellow Jackets.
“We came into game five with a slow start, but I really thought that the way we came back with the determined kills that we had with game one. It was tough way to go down at home, by 13-15. I really thought we had it,” Kellogg said.
The Jackets started their run to the Regency Suites tournament final with a sweep of Arkansas on Friday night. Tech went back and forth in the first two sets with the Razorbacks before finally breaking through with a strong set in the third.
Callie Miller highlighted the match with 10 kills, and Michelle Kandell had 18 digs. The Jackets started the match slowly, Tech was down 5-2 before they were able to come back and tie it at six. The match would be tied 14 more times before the Jackets were able to break through. Up 25-24, Kandell, one of the senior leaders on the team, served for, and won, the set point (26-24).
The second set took a different turn early. Down 5-2, Niekamp faked a set and instead hit the ball over for a kill. Kandell followed that with a service ace that bounced off the top of the net and the Jackets tied it at five with the next point.
The match would end up being tied eight more times before the Jackets picked up three straight points and never let Arkansas get within a point the rest of the way. Tech wound up winning the second set 25-22 on Arkansas’ Hillary McCormick’s serve.
In the third set, Tech won the first two points and they never let the Razorbacks tie the game the rest of the way.
Up 14-10, Tech pulled off an 11-4 run to take the third set and the match. McCormick also served for Arkansas on Tech’s final point.
“It’s a good home opener for us. It took us a little while to get the jitters out, and you could see it. We were a little shaky at the beginning. Once the team started getting into a groove, I think we asserted ourselves. I think it’s a good omen for the rest of the season for us,” said Head Coach Bond Shymansky.