We’re back to the weekly grind this week, and we’ve got some schedule news, general updates, and a breakdown of the week from O’Keefe.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Greetings, exiles from the world of Georgia Tech college football, all are welcome in this space. In this space, we are all Randy Arozarena, smacking the heck out of home plate, and we are all Michael Penix, Jr, diving for the pylon, and we all are most certainly Kayla Kaiser, Maddie Tippett, and the rest of the volleyball team yelling in celebration after a well-executed point.
If you haven’t seen the Rays walkoff from Saturday, I’d recommend it. In fact, I’ll do you one better and give you a Jomboy breakdown of the play. Worth every second.
If you haven’t seen the Indiana overtime two-point conversion from Saturday, I’d recommend that, too. Here’s that play.
As for volleyball, well, we got plenty from them to talk about here in the rest of Yellow Jacket Roundup.
Hopefully that puts the events of
Boston Chestnut Hill out of your mind. Let’s get down to business.
Last Week on the Flats
No. 8 Volleyball
The first game of the pair that Tech hosted against Clemson played out largely the same as their previous four against Florida State and Wake Forest. The sets all played closer, than either of the previous two opponents, but Tech was able to prevent Clemson from going on long runs, even if they didn’t go on too many big runs themselves. Clemson didn’t do itself any favors in the first game, though, as self-inflicted mistakes cost them points on the serve, on the attack, and when they couldn’t stay out of the net. It was a team that tried valiantly to stop Tech, but if you see a team send up three players to block at almost any point against a team as talented as Tech is on the attack, you know they’re selling out to stop something that will only wind up getting taken advantage of eventually. With Mariana Brambilla again looking excellent, particularly on the right side and from the back row, Kayla Kaiser getting some quick hits up the middle, and Julia Bergmann and Mikaila Dowd looking as successful as ever from the outside, there wasn’t a lot the Tigers could do to stop it.
I think Dowd deserves a quick aside here. I won’t prevent to have been the most knowledgable about volleyball when I first showed up on this beat, but, four years into it, I think I’ve seen enough to make the following comparison: what Tech is asking her to do the past two years is subtly and critically different than what her role was as a freshman. I thought it last year but couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like her role has been a stronger defensive presence since Julia Bergmann became another strong Tech attack threat from the outside hitter position. I don’t think this degrades her performance either, but rather speaks to the versatility a lot of this team shows. We commend Brambilla a lot for her diverse skillset, but Dowd plays just as big of a role, and though it may be more noticeable when she gets a double-double on the scoresheet, it seems the digs have been piling up faster for her than the kills lately, and, frankly, I think that’s a good thing. Dowd, Bergmann, Brambilla, and now-graduated Kodie Comby made a highly effective offense last year, but with Erin Moss and Kaiser only coming more into their own on the attack, having Dowd able to handle most anything thrown at her, often at high speeds and interesting angles, makes the team an even more effective whole. Tech is blessed with options. It makes their story more compelling to see them stepping up to make themselves more well-rounded.
So what’s the deal with the second game? It seems I just dropped the ball on that one.
Well, I was there in person for that one, too, and it definitely wasn’t as pretty as the first one. However, Tech is talented enough that they can afford to have a bad set, or to make a mistake or two, correct it, and then win the match. And that’s what they did.
Tech started out with a first set win. It was pretty standard - starting lineup of Tippett, Dowd, Brambilla, Kaiser, Moss, Bergmann, and Matti McKissock - although it took Tech a bit to put it away. However, a couple key plays would be an omen for the rest of the match. The first was the trouble Tech had on the Clemson serve. The second was the misplays on the attack. The third was that the referees were watching a fascinating and interesting match, one that Clemson was doing very well in, that was definitely not the one happening in O’Keefe. The good news is, two of those are fixable. They didn’t in the second (they lost the set), but a critical move in the third changed the flavor of the match for Tech - they brought in Isabella D’Amico midway through the third set.
I’m not arguing that the one switch made all the difference in the match - that would be overstatement. However, she did do a good job of filling the setter role, with effective passing and setting up the attack. Critically, however, she shone on defense, and registered three blocks in less than half the match. Not to detract from anything McKissock does as the usual starting setter, but D’Amico’s role in the defense came up clutch several times, and McKissock usually doesn’t register on the score sheet at the net. D’Amico paired well with another young player who had a statement match for herself, the middle blocker Moss. It was great to see these two shine, and work well together on the attack and in a defensive role in the front.
I think that’s the biggest takeaway from the match. The young players played very well, and Tech was able to win in a relatively comfortable four sets, despite some uncharacteristic errors, hard reads on serves, and some interesting calls from the referees. That, as I have so unfortunately failed to mention yet in this segment, Georgia Tech volleyball is in first in the ACC standings at the end of their fall slate. The worst that they can do is tie atop the table, as ever other ACC team has at least one loss. I really want to say that makes them ACC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS IN VOLLEYBALL and scream it from my balcony right now, but given that there’s (presumably) a spring slate, who knows what that actually means in the grand scheme. I say hang the banner right now, but I also say Manuel Margot was safe in his attempted steal of home, and no one listens to me, so...yeah.
Truly, a good week to cover the Jackets, though.
Swimming and Diving
Tech hosted their second intrasquad this weekend, and there’s not much posted on RamblinWreck.com about it, but they were tweeting and posting to Instagram with some results, so we can dive into those. Obviously, Caio Pumputis and Christian Ferraro continued to be their usual selves, but based on the number of records they set, newer faces McKenzie Campbell and Batur Unlu should make for interesting swims to watch for this year.
The bigger news, though, is the team has released a fall schedule. I REPEAT, SWIMMING AND DIVING HAS A FALL SCHEDULE. The men and women will head to Tallahassee the week after next, which is a gorgeous outside pool to swim in (or maybe an okay indoor pool, but I doubt they’ll head there) and should yield some good swims. Then, the week before Thanksgiving, they’ll be in Athens to race against some of the top teams in the country, or at least, the Athenians, who are in fact very good.
Nothing doing schedule-wise on the website, but they have been posting about being 31 days from tipoff lately, so I assume we’re about a month or so from the start of their season.
We’ll bring the hot corner back next week, when there isn’t so much volleyball to talk about. We’re already running over budget, words-wise. I have some thoughts from the White and Gold World Series to discuss, plus some looks at their ongoing construction on the third base line.
As for campus, there’s a couple interesting things to note this week. The first is that the large park at Hemphill and Ferst that has been under construction for the better part of a year since the Police Station moved up to Tenth and Hemphill appears to be nearing completion. The water main break kind of swept a lot of the landscaping prep down into the basement of the Dalney Street Parking Deck, making that a giant orange mud pit, but the crews have rallied of late. The Hemphill corridor is a bit banged up, but I’m sure that will see some love when they finish the park.
As for coronavirus numbers, they have ticked up of late, but aren’t as high as we saw to begin the semester.
Best of the Week
This Week on the Flats
You have football, and you have cross country. You can’t watch cross country anywhere, and you can watch football. This one isn’t too hard to nail down.
Poll of the Week
Best Tech Halloween Costume Idea?
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Ghost of Sideways
Dressing Up Your Car As the Reck
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