ATLANTA — Another day, another straight set win for the #10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in O’Keefe Gymnasium. Tech beat the Syracuse Orange 25-18, 25-21, 25-20 to move to 15-4 and 8-2 in ACC play. The win increases Tech’s lead over Syracuse in the ACC to two games, shooting the Orange down to 6th place in the conference for the time being.
Tech did not have the smoothest of days. Both teams had long scoring streaks, of which Tech had a six point in the first and nine point streak in the second while Syracuse had their own six point streak, also in the first set. Syracuse had three or four streaks sprinkled throughout the match, forcing the issue time and time again. Any time Tech was not playing clean volleyball, the Orange were more than skilled enough to take advantage.
From the outset, this was certainly a match Tech could’ve hammered the shorthanded Syracuse team, who played with five bench players after an exodus of players before the season. Tech had nine return errors, most notably a couple during Tali Marmen’s stint when communication was not clean. There’s no telling if that affected her place in Coach Collier’s future consideration of playing time for her, but it was not good.
What we did have today though was Erin Moss’ career best in kills and blocks with 14 and 8 (2 solo, 6 assisted) respectively for 19 total points. She absolutely took over in the second set with three blocks in six points to propel Tech in their nine point streak. At the end of the match, her and Bergmann were trading spots as the game leader in kills. Syracuse did not have an answer for Moss’ attacks down the middle. She hit .524% on the day.
This was Julia Bergmann’s first match over the 1,500 career kills, and her 15 on the day brought her to 1,529. She’s now 57 kills behind Mariana Brambilla, who is 8th in school history. At Julia’s rate this season, the Miami game might be when she takes 8th for herself.
Bianca Bertolino played today and Friday with her left pinky and ring fingers taped together, but still started and played well. Her position was most frequently subbed for all weekend, usually for Leia Harper. Tali Marmen subbed in for Bertolino twice in the third set as the onluy deviation. Elizabeth Patterson also saw limited action near the end of the third set.
Tech’s next four games are on the road, playing North Carolina, North Carolina State, Florida State, and Miami. Any loss before playing Louisville or Pitt will put them in a dicey situation whether they can stay in the top 16 or not and host NCAA Tournament matches. Beating one of Pitt or Louisville almost assures a top 10 spot.
Three Thoughts on today’s match...
- Not flawless, but good enough: As mentioned with the return errors, there were spots Tech fell out of it again and didn’t play solidly. A couple points early went Syracuse’s way because of unlucky bounces, but it was clear Tech was not playing with the same intensity throughout the match. It’s passable against unranked opponents, but as we’ve noted in the past, it will cost sets against elite teams. For what it’s worth, Syracuse was an excellent team considering being shorthanded this season and had possibly one of the best opposing players of the year come to O’Keefe. Speaking of her...
- Polina Shemanova is incredible, and we are lucky to see her play: Last year, we all got to witness the spectacle of Kayla Kaiser’s serve every match. I hate to say it, but Shemanova has a better serve. Of her three aces, two weren’t even touched as they flew by Tech’s back line. Bergmann eventually got a handle returning her serve, but Shemanova also was Syracuse’s kill leader with 14 and tied with Moss with the game high 19 points. She’s part of Russia’s Junior National Team. Based on today’s performance, she aboslutely deserves it. Shemanova is at 1,776 career kills after today’s game, recently becoming Syracuse’s all time kill leader.
- Overall, a promising weekend: Part of the big worry was that Tech could not close out teams well enough, but this weekend this was not an issue. With multiple 10+ point leads, only Syracuse got to 21 points all weekend. From the eye test and having watched the majority of these matches, the communication and chemistry are certainly in a better spot than earlier in the season. Taking care of business over the next couple weekends before Louisville comes to town is critical. Getting through it with clean play to help get the momentum in the right place before NCAA’s is even more critical.
The Yellow Jackets play next on Friday, October 28th in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels at 6pm on ACCNX.