Volleyball secures NCAA tournament berth

Sophomore outside hitter Julia Bergmann hits the ball in Tech’s match against Notre Dame. Bergmann, a first team All-ACC pick, had a double-double against the Irish. // Photo by Alex Dube Student Publications

Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Tech volleyball was in position to capture the ACC title, sitting at second place behind Louisville. Ranked 23rd nationally, they were set to face 22-ranked Notre Dame (then 12-3, 11-3 ACC) and unranked Duke (then 9-12, 7-9 ACC) to make their end-of-season push. Tech would need to win both matchups and see Louisville drop one of their final two to grab the top line in the conference.

Notre Dame would ultimately end Tech’s hopes of an ACC title on April 1, ending the Jackets’ 16-game home winning streak in a 3-0 contest. The Irish were able to build leads off of extended runs in all three sets, and won 25-21, 25-18 and 25-20 in each set. Sophomore hitter Julia Bergmann was Tech’s star of the day, recording a ten-hit, ten-kill double-double to go with a pair of blocks.

Tech bounced back with a win over Duke on April 3 to close the regular season. Tech won all but the third set, with scores of 25-18, 25-15, 20-25 and a strong 25-14 final set on the day. Junior setter Matti McKissock piled up 46 total assists while Bergmann had another double-double with 22 kills and 11 digs along with a pair each of aces and blocks. McKissock moved into the nine-slot on Tech’s all-time assists leaderboard with this weekend’s effort

Despite the win over the Blue Devils, perfect weekends by Pitt, Notre Dame, and Louisville kept the Jackets from the top of the standings as Tech concluded the season at fourth in the ACC. With a 13-4 (13-4 ACC) record that included no non-conference games, Tech was selected as an at-large team to the NCAA tournament and finished with the 23rd rank nationally.

The tournament starts April 14, when the Jackets will face Lipscomb (17-2, 11-1 ASUN) in the first round at 7pm. Lipscomb won both the regular season title and the ASUN tournament to earn a guaranteed bid. The winner will go on to face the tournament’s number-three seeded Minnesota the next day at 7pm. This is Tech’s tenth tournament appearance, the first since 2009.

Three Tech players received All-ACC nods, highlighted by Bergmann’s and Mariana Brambilla’s unanimous first team selections. Brambilla, a junior, earns her third straight all-conference award in a season where she eclipsed the 1000-kill threshold. She ranked second in the ACC in both kills and points per set. Bergman likewise received her second straight first team selection. She was the ACC leader in aces per set and finished in the top 20 in the country by the same stat.

McKissock rounded out Tech’s All-ACC picks with second team recognition earned despite an injury-shortened season. The reigning ACC Setter of the Year led Tech in assists on their way to first tournament berth under head coach Michelle Collier. All three of the Jackets’ All-ACC players are juniors or younger, setting the team up for another successful year after a hopeful tournament run, establishing Tech as an ACC contender under Collier.