The volleyball team took two out of three at the Magnolia Invitational played last weekend. The tournament featured two five-set matches and a face off against an SEC opponent. Senior Michelle Kandell was named the top libero, while sophomore setter Mary Ashley Tippins and freshman middle hitter Asia Stawicka were named to the all-tournament team.
On Friday, senior outside hitter Talisa Kellogg led the team with a total of 16 kills but it was not enough as the Jackets lost to SMU. The loss was the second consecutive for Tech, with both coming in five sets. Tech had to win the third and fourth sets just to keep the game alive. The Jackets committed several errors in the final set which cost them the game.
“Against SMU, we started off slowly and we were just trying to find our rhythm. It came to us some games and others it didn’t,” Tippins said.
The Jackets managed to put big numbers on the scoreboard. Freshman Allison Campbell, senior Callie Miller and junior Brittany Roderick each had at least ten kills. The Jackets led their opponent in every scoring category, except points.
“Our passing started clicking and everyone’s energy picked up…We brought more of our energy and better passes. Better hits just came about and we were focused,” Tippins said.
Tech later broke their losing streak in another five-set match against the home team, Ole Miss. The win against an SEC opponent will statistically help the Jackets’ chance of earning a bid for the NCAA tournament. Tippins recorded 19 assists over the fourth and fifth sets. Kellogg and Campbell led the offense with double figures in kills. Kandell led the back row defense with 23 digs.
With a tie late in the fourth set, the Jackets added more points on two defending blocks and four opponent errors. Back-to-back kills by Kellogg and Campbell sealed the score and forced another set. In the final set, the Jackets scored quickly for the win. Tippins posted 28 assists, six digs and two block assists over the last two sets.
“It definitely wears down your body, especially after a five-game match. Everyone brought out their energy that night, and [Ole Miss] brought out their fans, because they were trying to heckle us. Playing volleyball, you have to be in good shape, so we’ve been working on that,” Tippins said.
Finally, the Jackets continued their success, needing just three sets against Eastern Illinois. Tech’s blockers helped to hold the opponent to a .091 hitting percentage. In the second set, the Jackets tore open the lead while cruising for a 25-13 win. A 9-2 run in the third set sealed the score for a victory.
“We were determined to go 3-0 that day because we didn’t want to play another five-game match. That was our day…we told ourselves, ‘Get in and get out.’ We started the match really well and everything just clicked in that one,” Tippins said.
The Jackets play this weekend against ACC-favorite Clemson. They also play against Florida A&M to finish the tournament.
“We never beat [Clemson] last season, so we’re going to be out to get them. Basically, we are focusing on defense. We have a couple of their players we are focusing on but it’s mostly about us, like our passing and serving,” Tippins said.