Early returns from volleyball conference play

Photo courtesy of Danny Karnik /Georgia Tech Athletics

Tech volleyball fell in Athens last weekend, losing a close game to the Georgia Bulldogs. UGA took an early lead, going up 6-0 in the first set. The Jackets called a timeout to try to regain some ground, but the lead proved too large for Tech for come back as Tech fell 25-15. The second set was much closer, but Tech faded late to give the Bulldogs a 25-23 victory. For the Jackets, things never really went their way until the third set — the Jackets jumped out to a 16-5 lead early and held on for a 25-17 victory after a hard-pressed comeback attempt from UGA. Going into the fourth set down 2-1 in sets, UGA took a 15-8 lead that it would not yield, clinching the match for the Bulldogs.

The Jackets responded to the loss by defeating Syracuse 3-1 in the following match, starting their conference play with a win at O’Keefe. After taking the first set handily 25-17, Cuse kept it close early, but with Kaiser serving Tech went on a 10-0 streak to take the second set. Tech yielded the third set, 25-17, but recovered quickly and took the fourth and final set comfortably 25-12, sealing a 3-1 victory in front of a capacity home crowd.

The Jackets are currently 6-1 at home, with their sole loss coming in their most recent game against Boston College. In a heated battle, Tech lost the first and second sets 31-29 and 25-21. Tech stormed back in subsequent sets, taking the third and fourth sets 25-21 and 25-14, forcing a fifth set. The deciding set went back and forth, but the Eagles came out on top 15-11, taking the set and the match.

Tech’s strong record — 8-5 and 1-1 in conference play — comes as a result of Tech’s young talent. Sophomore phenom Matti McKissock has impressed so far, recording three double doubles on the season and a personal record 63 assists against Boston College. Freshman Julia Bergmann also has had an impressive season, also having three double doubles. The freshman recorded her first over-20 kill game against Boston College, with 23 kills. The young talents on the team show a potential for multiple NCAA tournament appearances over the next few years.

Looking ahead, the Jackets face a challenging schedule over the next few weeks as they delve deep into conference play. With teams such as Louisville, While the ACC profiles as a fairly week conference in terms of overall strength — just three ACC teams received votes in the most recent iteration of the AVCA Coaches poll — Tech faces a steep climb in the conference against the current favorite, the no. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers, whom Tech plays on the road on Nov. 8th. Other ACC teams receiving votes include no. 23 Florida State and Louisville.

Tech is off to a good start already, especially with their strong home record and individual performances from their young players, but the will need to finish strong to have an opportunity to make the NCAA tournament, kicking off in December later this year. Tech goes on the road for their next four matches against Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson and Virginia Tech until they return to Atlanta for a home-stand against Wake Forest, Duke, Florida State and Miami. Tech’s next home-stand kicks off Oct. 18 and runs through Oct. 27.