Volleyball falls to UGA for first time since 2007

Photo by John Nakano

The volleyball team hosted its annual Georgia Tech Invitational this past weekend at O’Keefe Gymnasium for its first home stand of the season. The Jackets lost to Georgia in four sets on Friday night, followed by a doubleheader sweep on Saturday against Alabama A&M and Southern Mississippi.

The team was back in action again on Tuesday, as it defeated Kennesaw State in straight sets. The team’s record now stands at 7-6 as it heads into conference play tonight at Duke.

The weekend began with a tight matchup against the Bulldogs that saw three Tech sophomores, Annika Van Gunst (17 kills, 14 digs), Teegan Van Gunst (19, 10), and Rebecca Martin (52 assists, 16 digs) score double-doubles in front of a sold-out O’Keefe Gymnasium.

The first set started out in UGA’s favor, as they held the lead from the very beginning and were eventually up 24-19, one point away from winning the set.

At that point the Jackets came storming back: three straight kills by the Van Gunsts plus an attack error by Georgia and a service ace tied the set at 24. The next few points were hotly contested, but the Bulldogs soon pulled ahead to win the set, 31-29.

The second set was incredibly close, as the score was tied at every possible point value from 1-1 all the way up to 17-17.

Neither team could sustain much momentum as nearly every successful play by one team was answered on the next serve. The Bulldogs were able to string together a few points towards the end, and held off a Tech comeback to take the set, 25-23.

Set no. 3 was also evenly matched to start, but towards the middle the Jackets began to outhit the Bulldogs and took a six-point lead, which they eventually stretched to seven to take the set, 25-18.

In the fourth and final set, UGA took the lead early and never looked back, outlasting the Jackets 25-19 to win the match. Although the Jackets performed better statistically, outhitting, digging, and blocking UGA, the Bulldogs were able to convert at opportune times and earn the victory.

The Jackets fared better in the Saturday afternoon match against the Alabama A&M Lady Bulldogs, achieving the sweep, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19.

They performed in a lot of statistical categories, out hitting A&M .376 to .154, notching 51 digs vs. A&M’s 35, and blocking 9 more shots than their opponent. Courtney Felinski and Teegan Van Gunst led the team with 11 kills each.

Scoring runs of 8-2 and 5-0 in Tech’s favor allowed them to capture the first set, 25-18. In the second set, Tech dominated on the stat sheet, as eight kills and seven errors on 29 attempts by the Lady Bulldogs brought their hitting average down to .034 for the set vs. the Jackets’ .440.

The final set saw Tech take a commanding 18-7 lead, holding on to take the set and win the match.

The nightcap was another sweep for the Jackets, this time over the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi.

The Golden Eagles only managed to hit for .086 compared to Tech’s .238, as costly errors kept them from gaining any momentum. The first and second sets were close for a while, but in both cases the Jackets rattled off a string of points to prevail and go up 2-0 in the match.

The third set was similar, but with the score at 16-15 in Tech’s favor, Southern Mississippi committed four attack errors in a row to give the Jackets a five point lead and eventually the victory.

This past Monday, Tech beat Kennesaw State 3-0 in an extremely convincing fashion. The Van Gunst twins combined for 20 kills and Rebecca Martin tallied 26 assists.

The Jackets are now 3-1 in their last four games.

The Jackets are back in action tonight in Durham, where they will take on the Duke Blue Devils to open its conference schedule. They will follow that with a trip to Louisville on Sunday afternoon.