Volleyball beats highest ranked opponent ever

Bianca Bertolino (5) bumps the ball during Tech’s win over Duke. The Jackets won all three matches over the past two weeks, including an upset over second ranked Pitt. // Photo by Josh Kim Student Publications

Tech volleyball extended its win-streak to four on Sunday with a win over Duke. The 16th ranked Jackets beat the Blue Devils without much trouble, sweeping them (25-16, 25-10, 25-16) for their fourth win in a row. The victory was led by senior Mariana Brambilla and junior Julia Bergmann, who each had ten kills throughout the day.

The win comes just a week after Tech had its highest ranked win in program history, defeating second-ranked Pittsburgh in five sets. A much closer match, Pittsburgh started off the first set with a five-point lead, though Tech continued to be a threat throughout the set, the Panthers eventually took the set 25-21.

Tech came back stronger in the second set, which quickly turned into a 23-23 deadlocked battle, only to be ended with kills from Bergmann and Brambilla which gave Tech a much-needed 25-23 victory.

A quick start from the Panthers in the third set put the Jackets in a 10-5 deficit, which quickly turned into a 19-12 deficit. Tech, which seemed to be struggling throughout the set, began clawing its way back, tying the set at 20-20 before sealing it with two kills from Bergmann, winning the set 25-23 and evening the match at 1-1.

Pittsburgh returned strong in the fourth set, going on a seven-point streak to go up 20-15, before sealing the set with a 25-18 win.

After four tightly contested sets, the fifth set first seemed destined for another fight, with the teams finding themselves at a 9-9 tie. From there, Tech caught fire, going on a 6-point streak to seal the win over the highest ranked team in program history, furthering an already historic season by beating a team that had come into the game undefeated.

Bergmann ended the game with 24 kills before following the performance with an 18-kill game in a win over Virginia. She ended the two matches with a combined total 42 kills, 15 digs and five blocks. The performances were enough to earn her ACC Player of the Week, her second time earning the award for the season. She currently holds the ACC season-high for most kills in a game with 30. Her average of 4.59 kills per set puts her at 12th in the nation, while her 5.36 points per set puts her at ninth in the nation, leading the ACC in both categories.

Tech’s recent wins put them at 47 wins of their last 56 games, while their win at home Sunday put them at 28 wins of their last 32 home games. The recent strength from the team extends back to last year. This most recent slate of wins pushed Tech to 13th in the most recent AVCA Coaches Poll.

Up next for the Jackets is an away game at Syracuse, followed by another away game at Boston College. Tech’s big wins solidify their standing as one of the contending forces in the ACC. Tech is currently in a three-way tie for fourth place between Notre Dame and Florida State, with games still to be played against both teams and another game against Pittsburgh slated for Nov. 19 at home. The team is chasing after their first ever conference win, which is determined by regular season in-conference play, after finishing fourth last season.