Following its first home loss of the season, the volleyball team traveled to North Carolina over the weekend and played a pair of ACC matches against the North Carolina Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Although the Jackets have struggled on the road at times this season, they picked up wins in both matches, defeating UNC 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-18) on Oct. 30 and sweeping N.C. State 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-23) on Oct. 31. The wins moved the team to 16-7 overall and 10-3 in ACC play.
In Tech’s first matchup against UNC, the Jackets dropped the first set but bounced back to win the next three and take the match.
The first set was close early on, but UNC outside hitter Branagan Fuller had four kills over a nine-point stretch as UNC took eight of the nine points to pull ahead 11-5. Tech gradually fought back, forcing a tie at 18 all, but they allowed UNC to put together another long run and go ahead 24-18. Fuller’s seventh kill of the set clinched the set for the Tar Heels, 25-19.
The Jackets broke open a close battle in the second set with a five-point run, and they prevented UNC from gaining any momentum en route to a 25-20 victory that tied the match.
Tech got off to a strong start in the third set, quickly building a 13-7 lead. UNC crept back and was able to bring it within two at 24-22, but a kill from senior middle blocker Brittany Roderick gave the Jackets the win and the match lead at 2-1.
In the fourth set, Tech jumped out of the gates, taking a 5-1 lead and building it to a 12-6 advantage. The Jackets prevented the Tar Heels from taking the lead in the set and cruised to a 25-18 victory that clinched the match.
Five Tech players had nine or more kills, and Roderick led the way with 13 throughout the evening. Senior outside hitter Chrissy DeMichelis added 12 kills and freshman Monique Mead had 10 while also contributing six digs and six block assists.
Sophomore middle blocker Asia Stawicka had nine kills, three solo blocks and three block assists. Sophomore outside hitter Bailey Hunter also had nine kills; the mark broke a streak of 18 games in which Hunter had recorded double-digit kills.
Junior Jordan McCullers had 15 digs while junior Mary Ashley Tippins put up 51 assists.
In Tech’s second matchup against N.C. State, Tech swept all three sets to take the match.
The first set was close, with neither team leading by more than three points most of the way, but Tech managed to pull away in the end. A three-point run concluded with an ace from sophomore outside hitter Alison Campbell, and Tech won the first set 25-20.
The second set saw Tech initially fall behind, but the Jackets took advantage of six consecutive Wolfpack attack errors to go ahead 9-4. The Jackets were in control as they won 11 of the final 13 points to take the set 25-14.
The third set proved to be a tough one for both teams as neither one was able to break their lead open by more than four points. Tech was able to pull ahead 23-19 late in the match, and victory appeared to be in sight, but the Wolfpack closed to within one point at match point. A Mead kill gave the Jackets the point to close out the set, 25-23, and secure the sweep for their tenth ACC victory.
DeMichelis recorded double-figure kills for the second time on the weekend, notching a team-high 13 kills. She was the only Tech player to have ten or more kills in the short match. Roderick and sophomore Bailey Hunter had nine and eight kills respectively.
A strong defensive effort helped the Jackets overcome struggles on offense. The Jackets hit just .165 as a team on the day, but they held N.C. State to a .000 hit percentage and forced 26 attack errors.
McCullers posted 11 digs and Tippins accounted for 26 assists.