Kind of out of nowhere, Swimming and Diving had an intrasquad this weekend, but there’s no schedule out on them yet, so today we will preview some Volleyball in anticipation of the start of the season this week.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Well, things are really picking up for the Jackets this week. Not only is cross country back, as expected, but we have swimming in the mix with football, who had already started, and volleyball, who will be a quarter of the way through their season by the next time this report comes out. This week, you can expect a preview of their shortened season, some notes on swimming and diving, a trip Around Campus, some self promotion, and the debut of a new feature, a Skyline View of things as they pertain to GTAA.
Last Week on the Flats:
It wasn’t a particularly large invitational in Gainesville, neither was it the city Tech was expecting to run in this weekend, but that didn’t prevent them from getting the season started on a pretty strong note. Facing Miami, Florida State, and Florida, the Jackets rolled back into the much superior state of Georgia with a second place finish on the men’s side and an invitational win on the women’s side. Tech’s men didn’t have the speediest finisher, but they did have a deep finish. The Seminoles, who in all honesty kind of dominated the field, had the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th place finishers, but Tech still but 6 of their 7 finishers in the top 15, and all were in the top 20. James Cragin led the way for the Jackets in 6th, while Nick Nyman, Harrison Morris, Devin Wade, Henrik Anderson, Myles Collins, and John Higinbotham rounded out the scoring. Three of those men? Freshmen. The other four were equally split between the sophomore and junior class. Excellent.
As for the ladies, they were led, unsurprisingly, by Nicole Fegans. She crossed the line in the 6K seven seconds ahead of her closest competitors, both Florida State runners, while Liz Galarza and Mary Claire Solomon rounded out the rest of the top five finishers. Tech’s other four scorers, Mary Kathryn Knott, Claire Moritz, Ellen Flood, and Kenzie Walls, were all in the top 12, helping Tech edge the Seminoles on the ladies’ side for the weekend win.
Swimming and Diving:
Honestly, all they posted was a bunch of photos and the intrasquad wasn’t even announced until the end of the week, so I don’t have much to say other than they swam a fairly typical set of events, and the white team won. Who was on the white team? No idea. Who swam what events? Unsure. The rest of the schedule isn’t posted, so it’s also unclear when they’ll swim next. So, yeah. Are you confused? So am I.
Campus is still quiet, even though the fancy tailgate tents are setup...for people not to tailgate in? Students get more outside sitting space, I guess, which is probably why COVID numbers continue to improve on campus. Once again looking at survailance results, we can see the trends we talked about last week continuing. Keep it up.
Best of the Week:
You know it’s been a good week for content when a Tuesday Thoughts doesn’t make the list.
- Robert’s Advanced Stats Breakdowns - doesn’t matter what the team or the scenario is, these are always well done.
- Return of Scions (Florida State Recap)
- Josh’s Question and “Answer” with UCF
This Week on the Flats:
What to watch? Obviously, Tech football is always must-watch TV, but with volleyball back returning the core of a very talented, NCAA tournament bubble team, and easily accessible for your viewing pleasure on ACC Network on Thursday night, it’s that game that should join your much-watch TV for the week.
Volleyball - Season Preview:
Whereas last year, Tech was predicted to be middling at best in the conference, they’re now seen as a legitimate top-3 threat in the conference. That should tell you just about all you need to know about how last season legitimized the trajectory of the Jackets. Of course, saying that, it sounds like they needed the media to tell them they were good. They don’t. In fact, last year was essentially a gigantic proving-everyone-wrong tour for Tech. Though the season started out slowly for Tech, including a garish midweek road loss to an okay Kennesaw State team - not ideal! - their star was on the shelf, and the lack of Mariana Brambilla was noticeable. However, despite skidding haphazardly into the conference slate, even losing three straight, on loss at home and coming up empty on their first road trip against tournament-caliber competition in Notre Dame and Louisville, the Jackets hit their stride. After the Notre Dame game on October 6th, Tech lost just once - a five set, backbreaking loss on the very last point on the road to Pittsburgh, a team that has monopolized the conference championships the past few years and would go on to be a top-ranked team in the NCAA tournament.
Though many games could be called out as epitomizing the fight and precision the Jackets exhibited - down to their last hacks, trailing two sets to one on the road against NC State, scoring ten straight to force a fifth set the would win comes to mind - the season, bottled into one game, would be when Notre Dame repaid the earlier trip to South Bend by meeting the Jackets at O’Keefe Gymnasium. The Jackets would win in five very athletic sets, despite it being neck-and-neck the whole way. The fans left chanting “N-C-A-A.”
Tech would end up finishing second in the conference - a sweep of a ranked FSU team helped - but would be passed over in favor of three teams further down the standings due to a weak RPI. Frankly, I think the attention the “snub” brought to the team combined with their dominant run to an NIVC title to bring them both more attention than being bounced earlier in the big tournament would have. Nothing gets people going like controversy, and flags fly forever.
The thing about that attention, though, is that now it’s time to deliver. Even in a season in which an NCAA tournament is far from happening at the moment, Tech volleyball has rightfully gained the attention of a lot of casual fans. It’s time to step up and deliver.
Brambilla is the obvious choice for a player to watch. She’s athletic, is downright fearsome on the attack, and is basically a danger from anywhere on the court. However, Matti McKissock’s contribution setting up the offense shouldn’t be discounted. On top of that, whether from the service line, up front, or anywhere in between, rising sophomore Julia Bergmann stands to be even better than her freshman campaign, one in which she fit into the speed of the college game about as well as anyone. Maddie Tippett has anchored the defense for two years, and she’ll do the same another year - she’s reliable. Kayla Kaiser’s distinctive serve and characteristic energy rounds out the list of players to note whenever they’re on the court. We’ve listed five players already and haven’t even noted Mikaila Dowd, one of the conference’s most fearsome outside hitters. When the best six are on the floor, the Jackets can take anyone in the conference. That probably extends to the entire country. Tech returns essentially their entire ACC-leading attack.
It’s a crying shame that they don’t have a full season to show the kind of fight and skill they exhibited for almost three straight months to close last year. But, more so than that, it’s important to be thankful that we’re at the point in the pandemic now that, not only have sports come back, but one of Tech’s most promising and fun to watch teams is three days away from putting the rest of the country on notice.
Essentially the entire core will be back for another round in 2021, too.
The GTAA Skyline View:
- Bobby Dodd Stadium - particularly the Tech fans - did a great job social distancing for the most part. I’m hopeful not just for the rest of the football season, but that we’ll be able to watch at least some of the volleyball, basketball, and baseball/softball seasons in person, too.
- New Buzz looks terrifying, much less fun-loving than Old Buzz. The mask, I get. The blacked-over eyes? I don’t know. It just looks like he’s meaner? If that makes sense.
- GTAA must have made a fortune selling alcohol. Almost every adult had one in the stands, and no one before or next to me in the concession line bought less than two either time I ventured onto the concourse. Running between $8 and $10 apiece, those weren’t cheap, but not the worst price I’ve seen, either. We talked about it the first weekend they sold it at the Rusty C, but GTAA made a great move here both for their coffers and to encourage safer tailgating. Bravo.
Poll of the Week:
How do you feel about GTAA selling alcohol at BDS and other venues?
This poll is closed
Some other answer (tell us below!)
So, are you watching the volleyball games Thursday and Friday? You should be. Expect a full write-up on the pair next Monday in Yellow Jacket Roundup. It’s good to see them back.