Volleyball goes 2-1 in the Georgia Tech Classic

Tech volleyball suffered their first loss of the season in McCamish Pavilion on Friday, Sept. 15, but bounced back with two clean sweeps over Howard and San Diego to finish out the weekend. // Photo courtesy of Nick Andrews/Student Publications

The weekend, spanning Sept. 15 to 17, was a packed one for the Jackets, with home games on each of the three days as a part of the Georgia Tech Classic. 

Playing to a packed crowd, the Jackets took the floor against cross-state rival, the Georgia Bulldogs, at McCamish Pavilion on Friday, Sept. 15. The stadium, which has only hosted the Jackets volleyball team once before in 2022, saw a record 5,303 people in attendance. Although the No. 10 Jackets bagged a lead by taking the first set 25-21, they lost the next three 28-26, 25-21 and 25-21 in their first loss of the volleyball season.

The match swung back and forth, with the first set tightly contested till 17 points apiece when Tech broke away to take it 25-21. The Yellow Jackets took the initial lead in the second set after which Georgia came back strongly to establish a 19-13 scoreline. From there, Tech fought back to nearly claim the set at 24-21, but a spirited riposte from Georgia saw them level the scores and ultimately separate themselves at 28-26 to take the set. The next two sets were also neck-and-neck near the 20-point mark before the visiting Bulldogs snatched the advantage. For the Jackets, senior outside hitter Tamara Otene, graduate middle blocker Afedo Manyang and senior setter Bella D’Amico did the bulk of the offensive damage, while sophomore middle blocker Liv Mogridge effected the most shot blocks throughout the game.

The White and Gold came back strongly from Friday’s setback on Saturday, Sept. 16 to put aside Howard in a straight-set victory, the home team’s fifth this season. The dominant display saw Tech go up 25-17 in the first set before widening the gap to 25-13 in the next two sets. 

Unlike the previous game, the Jackets took an early lead in set one and never offered their opponents a way back in the match. With the help of a five-point burst, the Jackets reached set point at 24-15 and took little time to wrap up the first set in their favor. In the second set, Tech vaulted to a 21-7 lead, finally finishing it after some resistance for the final points in the set. The third set saw two aces from outside hitter Bianca Bertolino — out of a total nine by the team — open up a 5-2 lead which was then widened to 17-8. Ultimately, Tech claimed the set with yet another double-digit margin. Mogridge was the most prolific for the Jackets on the offense while also shoring up the defense with multiple digs.

Continuing their fine form, Tech notched up their sixth clean sweep this season against the 2022 Final Four San Diego Toreros. The victory boosted their win-loss record to 9-1, bolstering the team’s confidence going as they enter ACC play. While the first set saw Tech snag a hard-fought 28-26 result, the other two sets were more decisive at 25-21 and 25-15.

While the Jackets were in an advantageous position at 18-11 in the first set, San Diego staged a dogged comeback to make the scoreline 19-18 and forced the set into extra points. After three ties, the home team clinched the fourth set-point opportunity to take the lead in the match 1-0. In the second set, the visitors were controlling the game at 16-11, but Tech flipped a switch to claim the set with a four-point win margin. The final set ebbed and flowed and was evenly poised at 16-15 to the Jackets. From there, Tech scored nine consecutive points to take the contest. Junior outside hitter Leia Harper contributed strongly to the offense in her first career start, while fifth year libero Paola Pimentel posted the most digs on the defensive stat line.

All in all, the weekend was a continuation of the Jackets’ strong record this season, with two clean wins and one hard-fought loss. The team next as they play Clemson on Sept. 20, after which they  will matchup with NC State on Sept. 24.