ATLANTA, GEORGIA — If there’s one thing I hate being, it is late to something, particularly sports. Show up for the first pitch, hearing lineups called, watching the Reck rumble onto the field, what have you - all of that is intimately intertwined with my enjoyment and consumption of sports. Friday afternoon, I was agitated enough when I showed up to the tennis match late due to some Classic Grad Student Stuff ™, but being yelled at by the chair umpire that my voice (Or hand clapping? They were super unclear) counted as an illegal noisemaker, which was weird considering I haven’t had any issues in the last five years of going to matches, only added to the flustered entry.
In fact, here’s the rule: “Noisemakers: It has been clarified that noisemakers (defined as musical instruments, thundersticks, megaphones, air horns or anything that amplifies sound) shall not be used during play.” Don’t get what the issue was, but that’s obscuring my point, anyways. In the middle of doing said Classic Grad Student Stuff™, the news arrived that it was in fact their last home match of the year, thanks to a cancellation from Boston College.
It’s Senior Day. Those happen all the time. “So, what, Jake?” you may be asking.
See, I had this weekend of sports circled on my calendar for quite a while, for one reason in particular. When I first started this column, the first sports I remember covering were tennis and volleyball. At the time, there wasn’t really anything of regular season sporting significance going on outside of volleyball, until cross country started up later in September, but I was going a little mad trying to understand all these sports I was thrust into covering, not knowing (frankly) much about the non-softball, women’s basketball, and swimming options other than “hey I took tennis lessons as a kid” and “oh we had to run and play volleyball in gym class, and those volleyball games sure were fun last fall.” The seniors that started as freshman (or were sophomores but returned as COVID seniors) that fall in women’s tennis and volleyball all played their last home matches as Yellow Jackets this weekend, and it’s bizarre to see them go. Considering it’s now been almost four years of this column, the mainstays of mention will be sorely missed, as will the seniors from cross country that wrapped up the all-time best season in Tech cross country history just a few weeks ago. From the highs of NIVC Championships and NCAA Final Four runs in years past, too, tennis and volleyball, two of the best and most consistent teams of this column’s tenure will see some truly excellent athletes and Tech students graduate at the end of the semester.
However, these two teams still have great opportunities in front of them. With the volleyball team squeaking into the NCAA tournament as one of the last four teams in, and the women’s tennis team gearing up for potential openings in the team, singles, and doubles draws, there’s plenty left to say. So, for now, it’s not a goodbye. Not yet.
Last Week on the Flats
Overall: 13-4 / Last Week: 1-1
Polls - AVCA Coaches: #23
Nerd Stuff - RPI: #33
It was a two match weekend for the Jackets as they closed out their regular season at home Thursday against Notre Dame and Saturday against Duke. Tech had started the spring season in the driver’s seat for the ACC Volleyball crown, but failed to defeat any of the other three powers in the conference this year, falling to Pitt and Louisville on the road in previous weeks, before getting swept at home by Notre Dame on Thursday. This is disappointing, however, it was also not catastrophic for the Jackets, as they followed it up with a win over Duke and the fortunate draw of one of the last four seeds in the truncated 48 team NCAA tournament this year. The Jackets drew Lipscomb, who many might not remember as a relatively familiar opponent for this batch of Yellow Jackets. The 2019 edition of the Bison team actually visited Tech for one of the non-conference tournaments in September of that year. It was after Mariana Brambilla returned to play, but early in that process, so Tech was a little off, and only defeated that team 3-1, and the Bison would eventually finish a middling 16-13. Tech will head to Omaha for the tournament - which, as I noted in this week’s edition of the podcast, is a quietly underrated sports city - and they will begin play on April 14th. If they win, though, they get national #3 Minnesota on full rest.
So it’ll be a fun ride through the bracket. Honestly, after being snubbed in 2016 and 2019, it is frankly just good to be back in the mix. Another feather in the cap of solid returns to postseason form for the Jackets.
Overall: 10-18 / Last Week: 0-0
Polls - NFCA Coaches: NR / D1 Softball: NR / ESPN USAS: NR
Nerd Stuff - RPI: #112
Softball was scheduled to play at Syracuse this weekend, but the trip was postponed. No games were rescheduled. They will host Louisville this weekend for a four game series.
Polls - Golfweek Coaches: #33, Golfstat: #41
Golf will continue play at the Calusa Cup later today. As of publishing, they currently sit in a tie for fourth place at 6 over with #8 Texas, a stroke behind #2 Oklahoma and four strokes behind #1 Florida State, while #15 Florida leads the pack at -2. So, Tech sits looking up at a lead, but no one came out and dominated today, meaning Tech has potential across the board with its scoring players. Time will tell how the tournament shakes out - follow along the scoring progress later today and tomorrow live at this link. Trust me, it’s great for a “slow refresh every once in a while to see what’s changed” kind of afternoon.
Overall: 12-9 / Last Week: 0-1
Polls - ITA/Oracle Coaches: #11
Women’s tennis, as noted, played Friday against Syracuse. As noted, it was senior night. However, left un-spoiled in the preview was the fact that Tech lost a riveting 4-3 match to visiting Syracuse. However, this came without the team’s top singles player Kenya Jones, and left Victoria Flores down a doubles partner, so she was playing on court 3 for doubles alongside Carol Lee. While the first two courts finished in quick work, splitting the two between Tech and ‘Cuse, Tech stormed all the way back from a 4-0 deficit to take the doubles point and put themselves in the driver’s seat headed into singles play. In it, Tech saw great play from Mahak Jain and Carol Lee, who each played up a court without Jones and won in two sets. Meanwhile, Rosie Garcia Gross and Gia Cohen each dropped two straight tight sets, so things knotted at 3-3 with court 1 tied at one set apiece. Flores fought valiantly after a long doubles match turned over into a longer singles match, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the nation’s #23 singles player Viktoryia Kanapatskaya, who had long been resting after being the ‘Cuse doubles pair that rattled off a quick 6-1 win on court two.
Sometimes, the game just works like that. It’s disappointing, but it’s how it goes.
Track and Field
Nerd Stuff: USTFCCCA Index M: #82 / W: #54
Track headed to Florida for the Florida Relays in Gainesville this weekend. They sent a short squad, so not many athletes were in action, but there were notable finishes in several jumps and vaults, with Olivia Moore’s win in the pole vault taking top billing for the weekend. RamblinWreck.com noted that 6 Tech athletes (Nicole Fegans, Liz Galarza, and Andrew Kent in the 5000m, Moore in the pole vault, Bria Matthews in the long jump, and Carla du Plessis in the high jump) sit in the top 30 of their respective events after the weekend.
In the Club House
Still nothing to talk about in the club sports world, since men’s lacrosse didn’t end up playing this weekend. As the sun set on the world of the pre-pandemic world, the last sporting event on the schedule was the men’s club lacrosse game on a Friday night at Stamps Field. It was eventually cancelled, but, suffice it to say, it will be a nice bit of closure or normalcy to see them back in action when that finally happens in the next few weeks.
In other news, Tech Hockey added a third game to their schedule. They will host Auburn at the IceForum at 3pm next Sunday. Honestly, that might not be a bad idea if you’re looking for some Sunday afternoon sports.
Best of the Week
- [#1, with link]
- [#2, with link]
- [#3, with link]
This Week on the Flats
With volleyball on the deck until next week, it seems that baseball is going to have to carry the day in terms of top-billed sports.
Poll of the Week
If you had to pick a track event:
This poll is closed