RIVER FOREST, ILLINOIS - I think there’s a no bigger sign of how college changes you as wandering around downtown Chicago more concerned about a college volleyball game than being able to walk around the place you call home. That’s either a testament to the investment this team has commanded from the people who have followed it all year, or maybe I’m just addicted to sports. You be the judge. Either way, it’s on to the NIVC championship.
Tech (24-8) sweeps Liberty (21-12) 3-0 (25-18, 25-13, 25-19)
Tech (25-8) dismisses TCU (12-18) 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-8, 25-23)
The Jackets notched two more wins, also by taking six of seven sets, again this week as they advanced through the quarterfinals and semifinals of the NIVC tournament. The Jackets, who hosted Liberty in a mid-finals match on Tuesday, weren’t fazed out of the gate on their way to a pretty solid game against the Flames. The visitors looked outmatched in almost all phases of the game, with Tech having an attack that was both visibly more versatile and effective than Liberty. Whereas Tech has Brambilla and Dowd with deadly accuracy from the left and right, Bergman who’s solid all across the net, Kaiser whose grown the quick attack nicely down the stretch, and the trio of Dowd, Bergmann, and especially Brambilla with tremendous power even from the back row, Liberty’s counterattack was, well, not a match for all the options Tech had at their disposal. It was a long game by time more because their coach used as many challenges and timeouts to forestall the inevitable as possible. Tech won in straight sets.
On Saturday, Tech was back at it again, having won the right to play host again, with their guests this time coming in from TCU. If you groaned when you saw that name come up on the other line of the draw, that makes two of us. The last time a Tech team played the Horned Frogs in a consolation NIT-style tournament, the boys from Atlanta didn’t fare so well under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Of course, that day was also the day I-85 caught on fire, so it was really just a bad day for the metro in general. Fortunately, the Jackets were far better off this time around, dispatching the Horned Frogs in four sets on Saturday evening. Though I was only able to catch this courtesy of the replay on ACC Network Extra, it was seemingly a pretty loud turnout for being after finals over the video. That crowd was treated, though, because TCU, despite their paltry record, seemed to be the best team they’d faced yet in the NIVC. Their attack was strong and their setting and passes were very consistent, understandably making them stiff competition, especially in the set they managed to win, of course. The first set started tight, back and forth, before Tech was able to edge away for a five point win. The second set was the opposite, with Tech trying to make a run despite falling behind early. The third set, though, was the gem, with Tech allowing their second fewest points all season, thanks to a blazing 14-1 start to the set. Bergmann, quietly the ACC ace leader, was at the line for eight of those points, and with McKissock, Brambilla, and Kaiser nearly as effective at the service line, rotations were never really an issue for the Jackets. They were able to put away the third set comfortably before the biggest nail-biter of the night, the fourth set. No team was able to get more than two or so points clear the entire set, and the match came down to a set knotted at 23-23. A tense, drawn out point followed, ended by a perfunctory kill courtesy of Brambilla from the back row. Match point was almost anticlimactic, with TCU erring and the ball falling at their feet in front of the net.
Tech wins, Horned Frogs go home. Jackets to the championship.
This week: Tech heads to Vermillion, South Dakota to face the Coyotes (no. 38 RPI, Tech is at no. 56) in their home gym for the NIVC Championship
Tech (8-1) throttled East Tennessee (3-9) 87-48
Well, to put it lightly, East Tennessee is not that good, and Tech did exactly what they were supposed to do on Sunday on the Flats. In more pleasant, Tech related news, it is almost a certainty that Jasmine Carson has been the most improved so far this year, and the game against the Buccaneers was no exception. She managed 26 points, including 18 from three point land on eight shot attempts, and Lorela Cubaj managed twenty of her own and a double-double, pushing her to the brink of averaging a double-double on the season - she currently sits at 9.8 rebounds per game. The Jackets came out of the gate on fire, stayed effective in all phases, and closed the game strong. All ten players who saw the court logged at least nine minutes of playing time and four points, and the bench was able to pour in half the points on the outing. It was a team win, and, though the defense lightened up down the stretch, the Jackets were able to score another solid win, this one in front of their largest crowd of the season. If you haven’t made it to a game yet, well, they certainly have been putting on a show.
Tech gets a second trip to the Caribbean in as many breaks, this time getting another well-regarded team in the draw. They played Rutgers tight for 40 minutes in the Bahamas, so another crack at a good team is due. Their Friday opponent, Texas A&M, sits at no. 11 in the polls and number 17 in RPI. With not even a single vote in the polls, Tech, meanwhile, quietly sits at number 28. Should be a good game.
This week: Tech heads to sunny Puerto Rico this weekend for a pair of games with Texas A&M and Rice.
In the Club House:
Archery’s Nick Zhao will be heading to the FISU America Games at the end of May. Congratulations, Nick!
For basketball coverage:
Honestly, just read this history instead because that second half was infuriating.
This Week on the Flats:
BOLD for home, REGULAR for away, ITALIC for time and location
Volleyball at South Dakota (NIVC Championship)
8:00 PM, Vermillion, SD, WATCH HERE
Men’s Basketball vs. Ball State
7:00 PM, McCamish Pavilion, Regional Sports Network/ACC Network Extra and the IMG Georgia Tech Radio Network (680 AM / 93.7 FM in Atlanta)
Women’s Basketball vs. no. 11 Texas A&M (Coqui Classic)
4:00 PM, San Juan, Puerto Rico, WREK 91.1 FM
Women’s Basketball vs. Rice (Coqui Classic)
4:00 PM, San Juan, Puerto Rico, WREK 91.1 FM
Men’s Basketball vs. Boise State (Diamond Head Classic)
5:00 PM, Honolulu, HI, ESPNU and the IMG Georgia Tech Radio Network (680 AM / 93.7 FM in Atlanta)