ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Keeping it short and sweet in the intro today. The RECC makes a big jump up in confidence as the Cross Country rankings cycle out of the mix, however the general downward trend can be explained by the recent shuffling of basketball and football. Swimming holds steady, while golf is hanging around while being off for a couple of months at this point. On to the recaps!
Overall: 25-5 / Last Week: 2-0
Polls - AVCA Coaches: 13
Nerd Stuff - RPI: 7 | Massey: 13
In the headline news of the week, Tech swept through its first two matches in the NCAA Tournament and are bound for their first Sweet Sixteen since 2004. This is the third time the Jackets have made it this far in the tournament, and the first under Coach Michelle Collier.
In Tech’s Second Round matchup, they drew Western Kentucky, who has been one of the best mid-major programs in the country this year, and have consistently been a feature in the Big Dance. They finished in the top 20 of RPI and Coaches Poll and lost just one game on the year before Saturday.
In the match, the Toppers came out of the gate rolling, with Tech in a four point hole five points into the match. However, the Jackets would rally off of some mid-set adjustments and a cutback on errors on the attack. Tech did manage several errors in service, but they were able to be consistent enough in the offensive game to make Western Kentucky play on their heels the second half of the set, and the Jackets unlocked the middle in this match on the attack that was able to help them greatly, particularly as Western Kentucky started selling out to seal the edges of the court, leaving gaps for Tech to take advantage.
The second set played out similarly to The Citadel match, where Tech was able to slowly gather momentum as the set played on. Mikaila Dowd came in as the service specialist, while Isabella D’Amico saw time in the first, and I could have sworn was on the court in the second and third, but the box score indicates otherwise. The second set was exceptional in that Tech hit at their best clip of the night at .417, while Western Kentucky managed .188, despite the Toppers being one of the best offenses in the country all season.
In the third, Tech was actually outhit by their guests, .303 to .400. Unsurprisingly, this is largely due to minimal errors from the Toppers, at just two, while Tech was able to hammer home kills, netting 18. Though Tech was up big in the middle of the set, Western Kentucky, true of a great team, did not go quietly, and brought the margin to just one point at 24-23 to force a second match point. However, Tech took care of business with one last kill from Julia Bergmann and that was all she wrote. It is worth noting that Bianca Bertolino was masterful in her serve placement, notching three aces, including one laid perfectly down the right sideline as Western Kentucky was attempting to mount their comeback in the third.
Also noteworthy is the interesting tidbit that all three sets saw just one lead change — Western Kentucky jumping out to a quick start, and Tech invariably catching back up and overtaking, whether at 10-10 (set 1) or 1-1 (set 3).
Further schedule details have been announced and will be discussed below with some concluding thoughts, but a gameplay flow plot from the match is shown below to summarize.
Ultimately, it was a fun weekend of great volleyball on the Flats, as the electric atmosphere of O’Keefe was even more pronounced with the stakes of the postseason present. This team, is very talented, a lot of fun to watch, and it shows in the little things like the celebrations and staying to join the band in the Horse after the game. Runs like this are nothing to take for granted.
On that note, Tech will be in action next on Thursday at 3:00 PM on ESPN+ against #9 Ohio State as the opening leg of a doubleheader of high-stakes Tech women’s sports on the day. For a preview of the Buckeyes - yes, it’ll be a tight matchup - check out today’s episode of Scions of the Southland.
Overall: 6-2 / Last Week: 1-1
Polls - AP Poll: 26 (RV)
Nerd Stuff - Massey: 41
It was a mixed bag for Tech, when considering they very likely could and should have gone 2-0 on the week. They played Purdue tightly on the road without Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, their most critical cog. In the game, Tech had the opportunity to ice the game in the closing seconds, but missed four straight free throws, a problem that has plagued them all season thus far, and Purdue was able to bank in a field goal that provided the final margin of 53-52. Tech was also ice cold from three point range on the night, which is another common thread on the season. Improvement in both aspects likely puts Tech as an undefeated team heading into this week’s clash with UConn.
However, before discussing that game — it is the most hotly anticipated Tech women’s basketball regular season game in probably many years — it’s worth digging into the results from Athens on Sunday. Tech entered the game having only narrowly lost to the Athenians the year before on their home court, but holding a one game winning streak in Athens itself. That, of course, was also Tech’s only win in Athens in the history of the program. On Sunday, Tech was able to jump out to a lead in the first, before slowly ceding the game back to the hosts over the middle pair, including a two point halftime deficit. With Lahtinen back in the lineup, Tech regained a great offensive threat, but also was able to work the ball around and into the middle more, rather than attempt quite as many three pointers. In the fourth, Tech charged out strong with their best offensive performance of the night, 17 points. Despite a late desperation three finding the basket for the Athenians, cutting Tech’s lead to one point with four seconds to play, the Jackets held on for the win.
Tech saw consistent scoring from Cubaj, Hermosa, and Love — all in double figures — but still struggled from the free throw line. Tech did a solid job of avoiding committing fouls while still establishing a good presence on the boards. All in all, a win is a win, a top 25 upset is a win, and a win in Athens is a win, too. All those things together, though, make for a memorable and important win that is certainly their best of this young year. Hopefully they can keep it going strong this week, as the UConn Huskies, by far the most famous women’s basketball team on the planet, drop in from Storrs for a visit.
That game will tip at 7:00 PM Thursday on ESPN2, and tickets remain. For $10, there’s not much of a better deal to see what figures to be a great matchup.
In the Club House:
It is a dang shame that there are no results published for this event, because, Saturday night, Georgia Tech took on their counterparts from Athens in a College Fight Night up in Buckhead. Not sure what happened, since I hadn’t heard about this event until it was too late, but, well, I guess this would be a good group to keep on the radar for future events. It certainly would mean a new twist on Clean, Old Fashioned Hate, that’s for sure.
12/9 — vs. Ohio State, NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, Louisville, KY
12/11 — TO BE DETERMINED
12/11 — vs. Louisiana State, Holiday Hoopsgiving, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
12/9 — Connecticut
12/12 — Furman