ATLANTA, GEORGIA—It’s a short and sweet intro for a short and sweet column this week. As noted Friday, after an unplanned absence from, uh, having a functioning computer, it is now time to jump right back in where we started. Fortunately, most of Tech’s teams haven’t missed a beat in the meantime.
Overall: 11-1 / Last Week: 2-0
Polls - AVCA Coaches: 18
Nerd Stuff - RPI: Not Available
So, uh, it’s been quite a month since we last checked in on the vaunted ladies of O’Keefe Gymnasium. When we last checked in, the Jackets had upset a very good Penn State team and managed to start the rest of the season unscathed. In the meantime, Tech has, for the most part, kept up the pressure, dropping just one game, which was not only against a well-regarded UCLA team, but also on the West Coast and hot on the heels of a game against Long Beach State the previous night that ended well after midnight.
Since that evening, Tech has been perfect, hardly letting up even to drop a set in the meantime. After a three game homestand in which they hosted Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Indiana, Tech hit the road for this year’s edition of a basically-annual matchup against Arkansas, which has historically been a pretty solid program. After not much trouble from the Hogs, Tech made a quick turn back to Atlanta and made quick work of throttling the Athenians, which catches us up to the scenario facing Tech as they opened their ACC slate.
Tech hit the road for the opening weekend of conference play, drawing Wake Forest and VPISU on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The prognostication before the weekend, given Tech’s recent success the schools and solid ranking and start to the year, was that Tech was favored in the two matches. To make a long story short, they most certainly lived up to that this weekend.
In the first game, Tech played Wake Forest make in their usual confines of their volleyball facility, after definitely playing at least one match in the much larger basketball arena last year, due to COVID concerns. In the first set of the match, the Jackets and the Demon Deacons traded points early, but Tech was eventually able to overwhelm their hosts, with the usual combination of outside hitters providing good fuel for the offensive firepower. The first set was out of reach early, and Tech cruised to a ten point win.
In the second set, it was a lot of the same narrative, however Wake seemed to be getting more confident and settled into the Tech attack, though with ultimately the same results, a Tech win by a decent four point margin. The trends continued into the third, which was by far the most narrow of the sets. It took into extra points, but Tech did ultimately prevail, 28-26, to seal the match and the sweep.
On Sunday in Blacksburg, the game was much more laid back. Of course, there were the critical notes of surprise in the first, as the announcers very helpfully relayed that Virginia Tech had come out in a surprising rotation and lineup, which proved smart on the Hokies’ part, as Tech was off-kilter to begin the match. Virginia Tech was even able to build an early six point lead. However, as any seasoned sports fan will tell you, early leads are not destiny, and an excellently timed timeout call by the Tech bench allowed them to make the necessary adjustments as the Jackets steamrolled the rest of the set, flipping a 3-9 deficit into a 25-17 win, good for a 22-8 margin after the timeout. That first set would be as close as the Hokies got, though, dropping the second and third sets by a ten and twelve point margin, respectively.
Tech took care of necessary business to open the conference slate, and now returns to host the two teams that have, over the past few season, been the conference’s premier non-Pittsburgh powers. Many might remember the 2019 Notre Dame home match as one of the definite classics of their late season undefeated run to the NIVC championship, as Tech prevailed 3-2 in five sets to secure a decisive win in front of a nearly full, highly raucous crowd. With respect to no. 5 Louisville, though, the script is a bit more barren, as Tech has lost all five matches since the end of the 2016 season, all in three sets. However, it is worth noting that the Cardinals have hosted four of those five matches, and that this is perhaps the best Tech team seen in the last fifteen years, so by no means should past be considered prologue.
What it does mean, though, is that both of these matches are very important. If you are able, a trip to O’Keefe this weekend, particularly if you are already in town for the Pittsburgh football game, is definitely worth your time. This pair likely sets a firm course for the narrative of the rest of the season, and a 2-0 weekend puts Tech in control of their own destiny in the longer arc of the conference race.
In the Club House:
Georgia Tech Hockey
In the only club sports news that has crossed my radar this week, GT Hockey took a venture on to the road to Charleston and came back with a pair of overtime wins. After starting the season 2-1 against the likes of Clemson, Tampa, and South Florida, their first road trip of the season was delightfully fruitful. Given that both games were against the same opponent and on back-to-back evenings, Tech and their hosts had the ability to get nice and familiar with one another. In the opening game, the Jackets entered overtime knotted at three before Brandon Holt knocked in the game winner.
Here’s the game winner for tonight’s game. Everyone get some rest, back at it tomorrow at 4 pic.twitter.com/a3hWjcZMZ1— Georgia Tech Hockey (@GT_Hockey) September 25, 2021
In game two, they must have gotten to know each other better, because the goals were flowing like rain. As we have already established, Tech did eventually win in overtime on Earl Gretzinger goal, resulting in the 7-6 OT final.
Tech’s next game is Friday night as they host the school in Athens for their first of at least three games on the season. Puck drop at the Atlanta IceForum will be at 8:00 PM.
10/2 — Alexander/Asics Invite, Fairburn, GA
9/26-27 — Windon Memorial Classic, Glencoe, IL
10/2 — vs. Pittsburgh
10/1 — vs. Notre Dame
10/3 — vs. Louisville
10/1 — vs. The School in Athens