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Yellow Jacket Roundup: Daylight Wastings Time

“Kaiser is fired up early,” ACC Network? You don’t say...

Golf gets the lead-in image today.
Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - Homecoming has now come and gone, and “fall back” couldn’t have happened at a better time. Between tricycle races, early morning runs, ancient, rusted over contraptions, and football, it’s been a long few days. But, with an exhausting weekend on the Flats over, it’s time to see what the rest of the program has been up to in the last seven days.


Volleyball

Tech (15-7) rallies to beat North Carolina (10-11) 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 15-10)
Tech (16-7)...rallies to beat *checks notes* North Carolina State (9-15) 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-11)

Tech started the weekend having not lost a set in 26 days when the match began in Chapel Hill. Though that streak was quickly and unfortunately extinguished, the more important streak, their six straight wins, lived on, though that, too, was in jeopardy most of the night. The Jackets were in the drivers’ seat most of the first set, they couldn’t get past 23 points to put away the first set. In the second, though, they were able to capitalize on a strong attack to even the match at one set apiece before dropping back into a one set deficit in the third after squandering a 17-8 lead midway through the set. The fourth set, though, is where Tech truly shone, playing their most complete set of the night, taking and holding the lead through effective attack and defensive play. Having forced the decisive fifth set, it was a race to 15 points, one Tech was up to the task of running. They edged ahead slowly, but were able to pull away after the midpoint switch and win the set solidly.

As far as Sunday goes, I love when teams play with heart. Absolutely no one exemplifies that spirit better than Kayla Kaiser. It’s great to see a lot of heart and a lot of emotion on the floor, too. Somewhat eerily, I wrote that in the middle of the first set. You’ll see why that is so consequential in a bit. In Raleigh, Tech was able to take a similar early lead on the Wolfpack. However, this time Tech was able to close it out and take a 1-0 match lead. However, they quickly found themselves not only in a 2 sets to 1 deficit, but a 23-15 deficit in the fourth set, to boot. The game was all but over after a run of inconsistent play and communication, coupled with a couple toss-up calls. The Tech road contingent was surprisingly loud on the broadcast, and you could hear the agitation after the latest of those calls inched the game closer to completion. That’s when Kaiser got tossed the ball at the far end of the court. She was up to serve.

If you’ve never seen her play live, of all the players on the team, her serve is the most distinctive. She takes a few steps, heaves the ball sky high, and then smacks the ever-loving [Steve Miller Band] out of the ball, with enough topspin on the ball to make a pitching coach looking for a 12-6 curveball pass out. Ten of those later, Tech had closed out the set, 25-23. A lot of that is from the great serve, but more of it is from the heart and hustle. This isn’t to say that the rest of the team doesn’t have it, because they do, and there were the long, grind-it-out rallies that put weaker teams’ athleticism to shame to prove it. But of anyone on the team to call to the service line with the match in the balance, she was one of the best to have there. The fifth set, hardly a formality, was more of the same. By the time the dust settled, Tech had gone 25-11 over their last 25 points. When the game was on the line - a loss that surely would’ve tanked their RPI - they found a way to win. That’s what good teams, teams that play well together, do. That’s what this team has become. One where we can reasonably start talking about postseason expectations. It’s not assured, of course. Going into the weekend, the Jackets were firmly on the outside looking in at no. 70 nationally. Tech hasn’t made the Big Dance since 2009 - the 2016 team was robbed, though, change my mind - but tasted the postseason with the NIVC. It’s not time to settle for that again, though. They have the resume for that. It’s time to put together a run that gets them in the reasonable conversation for an NCAA berth. And when’s the best place to do that, while already being on an eight game win streak? How about the best team in the conference.

“Pitt is a good team,” the ACCNX team sardonically said on today’s broadcast. They’re no. 5 in RPI and no. 2 in the Coaches’ Poll. This is the best team the Jackets will face all year. It’s been a long time since they’ve had the chance to get a marquee win. Here would be the ideal opportunity. And, if not, they still have a lot of winnable conference games on the schedule. Enough to make some noise into December, if they play their cards right.

Tech always had the pieces to put together this kind of record this year. And, since the beginning of October, they’ve turned it up to eleven on the court. The biggest concerns we’ve had in this space revolved around slow starts (which aren’t gone but also a little bit inevitable) and inability to win on the road. Having taken four conference road games straight via dominating or gutsy comebacks, it’s safe to say those demons have been exorcized. Now it’s time to bring it into the home stretch. They sit at second place in the conference with their toughest test coming on Friday when they take on the Panthers on the road.

This week: Tech stays on the road with trips to Pittsburgh, far and away the best team in the conference, and Virginia, who is...not.

No. 3 Golf

If you remember the single digit number that came in front of this team the last time we saw them - a soggy weekend in Atlanta, to say the least - you’d note that this one is, in fact, a fair bit lower than that. That is an indication of a good weekend. And I think that’s a reasonable conclusion to draw, considering they knocked off three teams all within the top 40 nationally at Cypress Point in Pebble Beach, California. The stellar week concluded with a matchup with no. 5 Duke, but the Jackets polished off a championship round win by the fourth round, thanks to stellar play all around. Tech has really lived up to expectations this fall, winning an unprecedented three of their four tournaments, and have really been playing excellent golf this fall, setting themselves up to hopefully defend their ACC title and make a deep run into the NCAA tournament in the spring.

This week: Tech is at rest until the spring.

Women’s Basketball

Nell Fortner’s squad hit the court for the first time in exhibition when they hosted Clayton State. The Jackets made quick work of their opponent, smashing them 73-35 on the back of great performances by Francesca Pan, Jasmine Carson, and Lorela Cubaj. It’s good to see the Jackets back in action, but a better judge of their performance, especially given all the change they’ve had to triumph over this offseason, will come later this week when they host a solid Houston squad.

This week: Tech opens the regular season with the return contest against Houston and an early low-major matchup with Grambling State.

Cross Country

There’s good news and bad news from Blacksburg this weekend. The good news is that the men took a medium step forward from last year, rising two spots year over year from 11th to 9th. The bad news is that the women backslid all the way to tenth. However, Nicole Fegans was still able to notch a top 20 finish and secure all-ACC honors. The more important race, though, will be in two weeks in Tallahassee. Time to get the house in order. It’s postseason time.

This week: Tech awaits the NCAA Regionals on November 15th at Florida State.


In the Club House:

Alright, honesty time, I had more notes for this, but I seem to have misplaced the sheet. However, off the top of my head, men’s and women’s soccer played well into the regional, but won’t be playing on into the season, sailing is a solid third in the region, and crew headed to Boston for the legendary Head of the Charles regatta and, as always, represented extremely well. As for our Twitter-loving hockey friends, well, we got this:

Bummer for the crosstown showdown result. And that’s all for this week.


For football coverage:

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For basketball coverage:

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This Week on the Flats:

BOLD for home, REGULAR for away, ITALIC for time and location

Monday: OFF

Tuesday:
Women’s Basketball vs. Houston
7:00 PM, McCamish Pavilion, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1

Men’s Basketball vs. North Carolina State
8:30 PM, Raleigh, NC, ACC Network and the IMG Georgia Tech Radio Network (680 AM / 93.7 FM in Atlanta)

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: OFF

Friday:
Women’s Tennis at the Rebel Invite
All day, Las Vegas, NV

Volleyball at No. 2 Pittsburgh
7:00 PM, Pittsburgh, PA, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1

Saturday:
Women’s Tennis at the Rebel Invite
All day, Las Vegas, NV

RV Men’s Swimming and Diving at Tennessee
11:00 AM, Knoxville, TN

Football at Virginia
12:30 PM, Charlottesville, VA, ACC Network Extra and Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports South in Atlanta) and the IMG Georgia Tech Radio Network (680 AM / 93.7 FM)

Sunday:
Women’s Tennis at the Rebel Invite
All day, Las Vegas, NV

Volleyball at Virginia
1:00 PM, Charlottesville, VA, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1

Women’s Basketball vs. Grambling State
2:00 PM, McCamish Pavilion, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1