No. 18 Tech volleyball slips at home

Brambilla (right), Morrisette (center) and Bertolino prepare before a point during their match with Notre Dame. Despite this weekend’s losses, Tech remains ranked No. 18 nationally. // Photo by Ethan Vitak Student Publications

After a blistering 11-1 start for 18th ranked Tech volleyball, the matches on Oct. 1 and 3 brought the team down back to earth after a tight loss to Notre Dame and a blowout by number three Louisville. The weekend was not a complete loss though, as the Killer B’s Brambilla, Bergmann and Bertolino all put up good showings.

Junior Julia Bergmann put up a season-high 30 kills against Notre Dame, along with 11 digs for her eighth double-double of the season. That match was a breeze for Tech in the first two sets. The first set was the best Tech played all weekend, who went on an 8-0 scoring run after being down 11-12. Notre Dame fought off two set points, but Tech finished off the set 25-17 on a Caroline Meuth service error for the Irish. Bergmann and senior Marianna Brambilla were most effective on sets they received in the middle of the court.

Set two began with a beautiful Brambilla touch shot. Notre Dame routinely was reverting to touch shots themselves with how strong Tech’s back line was at getting digs. Tech did indeed have their best defensive set in the 2nd, finishing with 25 digs. This set like the first, was back and forth and featured multiple Bergmann or Bertolino kills to keep it close. Brambilla hit the final kill to secure the set 25-22.

From that point on, Tech would not win a set the rest of the weekend. Notre Dame would also win 25-22 in a third set that stayed remarkably even. A miss by Bergmann at 20-20 after keeping Tech alive most of the set gave the Irish enough momentum to finish off Tech.

The fourth set began with a miss by senior Matti MiKissock that unfortunately foreshadowed the result for Tech. Notre Dame got out to a two point lead at 8-6 that Tech would never come back from. MiKissock was called for a carry to slip the lead to three. Head coach Michelle Collier called timeouts at multiple points to try and regroup, but Notre Dame had enough of a handle even the match, winning 25-17.

Bergmann in that set only had two kills, and in the fifth set she was visibly frustrated that she could not get past the Notre Dame block. Notre Dame got to a three point lead early. Brambilla moderately stopped the bleeding on a long point to keep the game at 9-5, but Notre Dame’s block kept winning points. The Jackets fought back to 12-12 on an ace by senior Kayla Kaiser, and Bergmann saved one match point before Notre Dame won on a kill by Aubrey Hamilton.

Two days later, the Louisville Cardinals came to O’Keefe for an all ACC, ranked on ranked matchup. After Bergmann started the match with a beautiful touch shot kill, Louisville won three straight points, getting in their groove far faster than Tech. The Jackets never had a grasp in this set, losing six straight points to go down 16-7, losing the set by ten.

The second set provided a massive roller coaster ride for both teams. Bergmann again opened the scoring with an ace. A long point at 6-5 that included three massive Tech hits ended on a Amaya Tillman block, which Tech answered by battling to 7-7. That was the theme of the set, long points and tiny leads that would disappear quickly. The set was tied on 23 different occasions. Louisville would win 36-34, but it truly was a full team effort on both sides to eke out points and not let either side dominate. Louisville played from ahead much more in the extra points.

The third set actually gave Tech more life than the second set, getting ahead 4-1 via kills by seniors Breland Morrissette and Brambilla. That was the only stretch Louisville was not on the gas pedal. They quickly fought back and ran to a 10-5 lead that Tech bit but never recovered. Louisville finished the sweep 25-22, Tech’s first sweep defeat of the year.

Tech travels for their next three matches to Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and Clemson to face Virginia, Pitt and Clemson respectively over the next week.