Tech splits matches at SEC foes Arkansas, UGA

Junior Isabella D’Amico sets the ball for her hitters during Tech’s sweep over Georgia. The win moved the Jackets to 7-2 on the year and helped them hold a top-15 ranking. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

After a win against then No. 10 ranked Brigham Young University (BYU) and a tough loss against then No. 8 ranked Ohio State, the Jackets were back in action this week against SEC opponents Arkansas and Georgia.

Arkansas, ranked No. 24 in the country, was coming into the match hot, having won six matches in a row. This is the first time Arkansas has been ranked nationally in the last seven years. The Jackets failed to extinguish the Razorbacks’ hot streak.

Playing in Fayetteville, Ark. on Sept. 15, the Jackets started off slow in the first set. This has been a common theme for many matches this year. After losing eight of the first 11 points, the Razorbacks stormed ahead and never looked back. They extended their lead up to 10 at one point and took the first set 25–16. 

This first set loss did not deter the Jackets. They came out firing in the second set and built a 17–8 lead. The Razorbacks did not go out of this game without a fight, winning 11 of the next 14 points and shrinking the lead to one point. The Jackets and Razorbacks went back and forth until a service error gave Tech the set and tied up the match 1–1, turning the match into a best-of-three. 

The third set was a back and forth affair. It was looking good for Tech early, as the Jackets had a quick advantage and continued that momentum into a 19-17 lead, but it was halted by Arkansas, and the Razorbacks took the next six points and rode that run into a third set win. Arkansas maintained their momentum into the fourth set. The Jackets fought back, but it was not enough and the Razorbacks won 25-20 and clinched the match three sets to one. 

Good efforts by both senior Julia Bergmann and graduate senior Breland Morrissette were not enough to prove victorious. Bergmann tallied 22 kills and 11 digs while Morrissette had 10 kills on just 20 attempts. Sophomore Bianca Bertolino also added 17 digs and nine kills. 

Tech was quick to forget the Arkansas loss, as the Jackets traveled to Athens, Ga. for this year’s edition of Clean Old Fashioned Hate on Sept. 17. The start of the first set was familiar as the Jackets struggled again out of the gate. Down 12-10 early in the first set, the Jackets were able to battle back and take a 15-13 lead going into the first media break. With this momentum, the Jackets surged to a first set victory of 25-19. 

The Jackets corrected their first set slow start and captured an early lead of 7-3 in the second set. The White and Gold made another run, winning eight of nine points and taking a commanding lead. The Jackets would not surrender this lead, and Tech won the second set, 25-17.

The Lady Jackets started the third set wanting the sweep against their biggest rival. The third set began with the Jackets and the Bulldogs going back and forth until the Jackets were able to find their groove and take a small but decisive lead. It was all Tech needed, as they continued to exchange points with Georgia until match point. The final point was won with a kill by Bertolino and Tech captured the final set 25-21, securing the sweep over their in-state rivals. 

Once again, Bergmann led the way for the Jackets with help from junior Tamara Otene and Bertolino. Bergmann totaled 16 kills and seven digs while Otene accounted for 11 kills and a team-best .348 hitting percentage. Bertolino added 16 digs and 10 kills. 

The Jackets start conference play this week at home against ACC opponent Wake Forest (8–3) on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.