In the midst of this whirlwind week for Georgia Tech, campus’ best team played twice on the road, going to Notre Dame and #2 Louisville, the latter being Tech Volleyball’s first ever game broadcast on big ESPN.
On Friday the 30th, Tech easily swept the Fighting Irish (25-12, 25-23, 25-19) where Julia “Lavagirl” Bergmann reached the 1,400 career kill mark with a 19 kill performance, also putting her over 200 for the season. She’s on track to get at least 8th all-time in Tech history this season, overtaking Carla Gartner and Wendy Malins, sitting 10th and 9th respectively at 1,455 and 1,464. Bella D’Amico put up a personal record night herself, setting her single game best assist mark at 45.
The second set of that match was the only rough stretch for Tech when Notre Dame put up a five point streak to close the gap to 20-19. The Jackets did what the best teams do though and found a way to keep the sweep alive via Bianca Bertolino hitting the set clinching kill, stretching Tech’s win streak to 4 and set streak to 12. Collier noted postgame that the team did lose some focus in that set.
Between the two conversations I’ve had with Coach Collier and following the team this season, focus really is the factor that makes or breaks a game for the Jackets. It’s evident when balls fall in the middle or they’re having to perform a juggling act to keep points alive on returnable attacks. Ohio State I would leave out of that equation because they’re the only serious mismatch Tech has faced.
At Louisville, it was the expected hard challenge and things were looking up after the Jackets took the first set 25-22. It got rough real quick in the second set, losing 25-14 coming from a -8 deficit in both aces and attack errors.
Breland Morrissette and Erin Moss were the bright spots offensively. Breland hit .500. with 8 kills, and Moss lead Tech in kills for the 2nd time this season with 11 at a .409 clip. So many of Tech’s best points are where D’Amico can find them quickly. Bergmann has to be used often to keep opposing defenses honest, but in games like this where she’s getting stuffed and not squaring up every attack, one may start to wonder if the attack volume needs to slightly shift away from her on her bad days. Collier has said they don’t have room to experiment anymore, so we’ll see if adjustments are made.
The final two sets went Louisville’s way 25-21 and 25-20, where in both the Cardinals pulled away starting midway through the sets. Louisville out-dug Tech 57-46 and finished with nine fewer attack errors. Of the various reasons Louisville earned their 33rd straight ACC win, Tech still made fixable mistakes between service errors, poor returns, and just better timing across the board. Hopefully we’ll see a much better performance on November 11 in O’Keefe.
Three thoughts on the loss at Louisville...
- Paola Pimentel a liability on serves
Louisville went to this strategy multiple times and it worked. Pimentel had five return errors, with Bergmann accounting for the only other all match. While she is the smallest on the team, it’s also her digging ability less not being big enough that’s costing Tech points on returns. Her five from today put her at 21 for the whole season. One can expect there will be a whole set’s worth of points given up just by her. No one else on the team has more than seven.
2. Blocking Bergmann
A big point of improvement going into the Pitt game next week and the future Louisville matchup will be finding ways to elevate everyone else efficiently and keep Bergmann relevant. Teams with a good blocking combo like Lousville’s Aiko Jones and Amaya Tillman can do a lot to neutralize Bergmann on the outside. Jones and Tillman were so effective that Bergmann hit -.068 on 44 attempts. Michelle Collier has a great chance to try out some new ways to get her involved, possibly in the same way Erin Moss and Breland Morrissette get their kills on quick sets in an efficient manner.
3. COME TO McCAMISH NEXT SUNDAY 10/9 2PM
I had another point to put here, but I felt it more important to put another call out to everyone that for the small price of $10 a seat, you can come support our fantastic volleyball team. Games at O’Keefe sell out so quickly that it will never be easier to get into a Tech match. If Wisconsin sold out the Kohl Center (17,00), we certainly can fill out McCamish!
Next match: Friday, October 7 HOME vs. Virginia, 7pm (right after the Mini-500!)