Tech sweeps SEC foes Arkansas, Georgia

Tech volleyball lines up for the national anthem before their Sept. 18 game against Georgia. The Jackets swept their rival en route to a 9-1 record in non-conference play. // Photo by Caitlin Aycock Student Publications

Tech was set to close their non-conference schedule before heading into conference play. They began the season in incredible fashion with a 7-1 record behind their veteran leadership. The impressive start led to them entering the week sitting at number 18 in the national rankings. The first of their two games of the week was a neutral site match against a one-loss Arkansas team. Tech’s schedule thus far has been filled with challenging opponents, but repeatedly they have shown the elite caliber of their team.

This past week was nothing different. They found themselves in a close first set with Arkansas as they traded points and each team had a chance to take a win in a close set. Midway through the set, Tech had gained the lead at 17-16 and 20-18. Near the end of the set, it continued to be a tight game with no team creating separation as it was tied at 23. After all the lead changes in the set, Tech’s stars led the way and took the set 26-24.

From that moment forward, Tech carried the momentum and cruised the rest of the way in a straight sets victory. They won the second and third sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-11 respectively.

The Jackets were spurred by another excellent game from the incredible trio known as the “Killer three Bs”: freshman Bianca Bertolino, junior Julia Bergmann and senior Mariana Brambilla. They each notched a double-double while all having at least 13 digs in the match. Senior setter Matti McKissock’s 28 assists on the day helped her to continue to move up the ranks as she now sits seventh all-time in assist totals for program history.

The win moved their season record to 8-1 as they looked to continue their win streak in a renewal of one of the greatest college rivalries: Clean Old-Fashioned Hate.

It was an electric atmosphere as the chants of “To Hell With Georgia” echoed all around O’Keefe Gymnasium. Despite the differences in the teams on any particular year, rivalries can always bring out the best in each team and result in a hotly contested match.

The opening set was a prime example of this. It began going back-and-forth with neither team able to grasp a lead of more than two points up until 21 apiece. From that point, Tech finished the first set strong and won 25-22.

The story of the second and third sets was building strong early leads and using that as momentum for the remainder of the set. In the second set, the Jackets got off to an early 10-4 lead and put pressure on the Bulldogs. A strong scoring run led by Brambilla got the Jackets to a double-digit lead at 17-6. They won the second set 25-17 and put themselves in position to sweep their rivals.

Similar to the second set, the third set began with a series of Tech scoring runs and gave them a 14-6 lead. Strong hitting and serving helped them bring their lead to 20-9, and they closed the set out 25-12. Tech had yet another dominant win in which they outperformed their opponent in all the major statistical categories en route to a powerful straight sets victory.

Tech has begun the season with a record of 9-1, marking one of their best starts in program history.

The Jackets are currently the third highest ranked ACC team behind only Pittsburgh and Louisville. All three teams maintained their rankings from last week, with Tech holding the 18 spot and Pittsburgh and Louisville at four and five respectively. The Jackets begin ACC play on the road against Wake Forest on Sept. 24 and then at Virginia Tech on Sept. 26 before a home game against Notre Dame on Oct.1.