ATLANTA, GEORGIA — I had a whole plan for what I was going to write here. It involved an anecdote about a recent commute, an allusion to this week’s men’s and women’s basketball ACC Tip Off events in Charlotte, and a nice little bow that tied us into the recent volleyball and tennis news. Alas, it is now the end of the week, and thus, it has faded into the recesses of my brain. So, let’s just get down to business.
Tech sweeps Clemson (25-13, 25-12, 25-21)
Tech drops one set at Duke (25-15, 25-16, 28-30, 25-22)
Tech played two matches last week, with the first being a traditional travel partner midweek match against Clemson on Wednesday and the second coming at Cameron Indoor up in Durham. In the first game, the Jackets summarily dispatched the Tigers. With margins as big as they posted in the first two sets, Tech was able to get Nicole Drewnick and Laura Fischer in the mix for a few looks, with Drewnick posting four assists on five total attacks and filling in nicely in service, going three for three.
Drewnick fit in nicely to the narrative of minimizing service errors, something Tech did not do well the previous weekend against Pittsburgh. All in all, Tech posted three or fewer errors on the attack in all sets, while limiting the reception and service errors to four apiece. The former number in particular contributed to Tech’s gaudy attack efficiency, with the second set in particular leading the way at .519, and all sets coming in above the .350 mark.
Interestingly, those errors were concentrated almost entirely on Julia Bergmann, Tech’s bonafide star, who spread five errors among 18 kills, while Tamara Otene and Bianca Bertolino rebounded from inefficient showings against Pittsburgh to combine for 11 kills and one error. This startlingly low volume on the attack for Tech’s ostensible second and third options at outside hitter largely resulted from the increased presence of the Jackets’ middle blockers, or in this case, middle hitter. Erin Moss and Breland Morrissette finally assumed the role they have been hinting at all year, delivering 18 kills between the two of them on an errorless attacking night. This presence from the middles is likely due to the targeting of Bertolino from Clemson in service, who faired reasonably well despite the 18 targets, and is likely a sign that Tech is bringing the middles into the offense more, which is something that has been somewhat muted so far this year, despite its general efficacy.
In terms of game flow, Tech never trailed in the second set, and the lead changed just twice in the first. In the third, Clemson did not go down without a fight, but were ultimately swept. It has been quite some time since these two programs have been on the same level, as Tech has rapidly ascended to the conference’s upper echelon, and thus limited the big picture takeaways seen from a match such as Pittsburgh.
For additional coverage of the Clemson game, check out Jack’s Three Thoughts, as he also keyed in on errors and the middles, as well as some roster flexibility in the early sets.
Once again, Tech opened up a match in absolute cruise control up in Durham. Tech won both of the first two sets going away, with minimal lead changing or drama. In the first, Duke was held to a negative attack percentage, meaning they had fewer kills than errors. Tech outhit the Blue Devils in all but one set, but the third set got away from Tech as they let Duke post their most efficient set of the evening on side-out, meaning Tech wasn’t putting together extended runs of scoring. This, coupled with errors, resulted in extra volleyball and a Duke set win, forcing a fourth. Interestingly, but likely mostly immaterially, this was also a set with creative lineup construction, as Fischer and Elizabeth Patterson saw time on the floor, while Drewnick and Tali Marmen saw time in sets two or four.
On the evening, Bergmann again saw a high volume of attacks, posting 19 kills, but a relatively inefficient .214 hit percentage. Moss, Otene, and Bertolino posted attack splits of 11/4/.280, 10/3/.318, and 8/4/.154, likely contributing to the sagging third and fourth sets. Meanwhile, Morrissette was effective in more limited looks, posting 6 kills and no errors. In the end, it was not the third set that Duke outhit Tech, but the fourth, as the two teams were both around the .250 mark. It was not an elegant end to the week of play, but Tech squeaked out a fourth set victory nonetheless.
After the weekend, Bergmann finds herself climbing multiple Tech all-time lists to 9th place in kills in team history and 5th overall in aces. As a team, Tech has returned to 10th overall in the AVCA poll and will host Syracuse and Boston College this weekend.
Tennis hosted the ITA Southeast Regionals this weekend, and play stretched into Monday as Carol Lee and Kate Sharabura played into the finals of the doubles draw, with Lee also competing for the singles title. Lee fell to Lea Ma of Athens 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in the singles championship, while Lee turned right around to upend a duo from Florida with Sharabura, 6-4, 6-2, capping an extremely long weekend of tennis action. Lee’s path to the singles championship included quarterfinal and semifinal wins on the same day over Marie Mattel of UCF, 6-4, 6-0, and Dasha Vidmanova of Athens, 7-5, 6-2, while also playing through the doubles draw.
In other Tech action, Ma also defeated Mahak Jain in the quarterfinals 6-1, 6-1, while Alejandra Cruz lost consolation final in tiebreak to Emily De Oliveira of Florida. In doubles play, Kylie Bilchev and Alejandra Cruz fell in the semifinals to the Florida duo that Lee and Sharabura dispatched, Alicia Dudeney and Carly Briggs.
All championship participants from the main draw will play in San Diego starting November 2nd, giving Tech two shots at an ITA national title in a few weeks’ time.
Swimming and Diving
Georgia Tech hosted the school from Athens in a midweek showdown this past Wednesday. Overall, the Jackets saw a bit of individual success, but did not have the depth to take down their rivals from the east. On the day, the men lost 180-119, while the women came up short at a 188-109 clip. Both Tech teams are unranked, with the men in particular in a bit of a retooling year after losing a handful of NCAA top finishers after the expiration of their five years of eligibility, whereas their guests sit at #7 on the men’s side of the coaches poll and #15 among the women. Oddly, looking the results, all of the events are listed in meters, while the RamblinWreck.com review explicitly mentions that the meet was short course. This means that the meet was an unconventional short course meters meet, as the American standard for short course swimming is yards, alongside the world standard of meters in the long course, while the only reason most American swimmers would ever encounter a meet in short course meters is that the person who built their summer league pool didn’t really know what they were doing. Or they’re training for the Short Course World Championships, but that one is decidedly less likely.
Among individuals, Deniz Ertan won two events, including the 800 and 400 Freestyle, while Zora Ripkova and Batur Ünlü, took one event apiece, with the former winning the 100 Fly and the latter finishing first in the 200 Free, while diver Rueben Lechuga swept through the 1 meter and 3 meter boards. Tech’s trio of first place finishers in the swimming events were joined by Matt Steele on the podium, with Steele in the mix in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke, as well as the 200 Individual Medley. Ertan, Ripkova, and Ünlü also added podium finishes in the 200 IM (Ertan, 2nd), 200 Free (Ripkova, 2nd), 100 Free (Ünlü, 2nd) and 400 Free (Ünlü, 2nd).
A significant contributor to Tech’s pedestrian overall score was their relay performance, as the NCAA rulebook gives a weighted points advantage to relay events. In dual meets such as this, relays receive 11, 4, 2, or 0 points, with only the best two relays from each team scoring, while individuals receive 9, 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0 points, with only the best three finishers from each team counting towards the total. In both the men’s and women’s 200 Medley Relay to open the meet, Tech placed third behind a pair of Athenian teams, resulting in a 15-2 deficit on both sides right off the blocks. Though both the Tech men and women came in second and third in the 400 Freestyle Relay to close the meet, all but one relay from the visitors scratched, i.e. did not swim, certainly contributing to the slightly more favorable 11-6 points haul for each side in that event. Altogether, Tech owed 18 points of each deficit to relay points, avoiding what but for the intervention of the NCAA rulebook would have been a worse outcome.
Tech is next in action next Friday in Tallahassee at #21/NR Florida State, and if past location is any indication, the meet will take place at their delightful outdoor venue, which is always a nice place to swim when the weather is pleasant.
Penn State National Open:
You could have given me a dozen guesses and I probably would not have guessed this Friday’s winner in the Penn State National Open men’s race, as Tech headed up north yet again to face a slate of teams from Rutgers to Rider. With just 14 teams, it was certainly a more focused lineup than the Lehigh invite, and the top three finishers wound up being La Salle, Northeastern, and Eastern Michigan in that order. Tech finished just short of a podium on the men’s side in fourth place, while the aforementioned Lehigh team wound up twelfth. On the women’s side, 18 teams participated, and the finish order of West Virginia, Penn State, Northeastern, and Georgia Tech was much more in line with intuition.
Tech’s individual finishers were led by veterans Liz Galarza and James Cragin, with the sixth year Galarza finishing in third in the women’s 6K and Cragin taking seventh in the men’s 8K, with Helena Lindsay joining Galarza in the women’s top ten. All Tech runners finished in the top 50 in their respective events.
Tech sent a contingent of runners back to Mount Berry for the second time this year, where the men finished in second overall behind their hosts and the women ran away with the invite title.
Softball’s fall exhibition season headed to Tuscaloosa for a full afternoon of action at Alabama. Neither the team Twitter nor RamblinWreck.com posted any updates, much to my chagrin, so I will instead say that I just hope everyone had fun, as much as knowing about Schrödinger’s softball games — and potential wins — would be.
In the Club House:
Tech fell 9-3 to the lads from Athens. We’ll leave it at that. Tech Hockey’s record stands at 4-4-1-1-1 on the season and they will host South Carolina in a two game homestand this weekend at the Atlanta IceForum.
10/21-23 — Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational (Alpharetta, GA) [9:00 AM]
10/20-24 — ITA Southeast Regionals (Tallahassee, FL) [ALL DAY]
10/21 — Bevill State (Fall Exhibition - Atlanta, GA) [6:00 PM]
10/23 — North Georgia (Fall Exhibition - Dahlonega, GA) [12:00 PM]
10/21 — Boston College [7:00 PM, ACCNX]
10/23 — Syracuse [1:00 PM, ACCNX]
10/20 — Virginia [7:30 PM, ESPN]