ATLANTA, GEORGIA — There’s something said about being spontaneous. I’m sure all of us have some great memories of deciding to do something unexpected on a whim. I’ve found as I get more and more into working life that spontaneity is something that increasingly looks like “ooh, I’ll pick up something different for dinner on my way home” rather than impulsively going to an event or out of town to do a day trip. That said, a benefit provided by sticking with city life after finishing up at Tech is that there’s always something to do.
Take this weekend, for example. Just off the top of my head, there were concerts at Mercedes Benz Friday and Saturday, another concert across the plaza at State Farm Arena on Saturday, the Tech game at Bobby Dodd on Saturday, volleyball at O’Keefe on Friday, Tech/State basketball on Saturday, just to name a particularly relevant few. Add in events at the Roxy, the opera or Arts Center, as well as other venues, or even just the ability to find an interesting new dinner spot on a whim, and it means there are plenty of things to just go out and do, should one feel the impulse.
All that to say, if the inkling to catch Billy Joel singing “Piano Man” live or something similar crosses the mind, I recommend, if able, trying something different or unexpected. Variety is the spice of life.
On with the results.\
Tech (18-6) falls in a reverse sweep to Louisville (17-25, 17-25, 25-14, 25-19, 15-11)
Senior Night started with a bang for the Jackets, as they very quickly found themselves on the friendly end of a 2-0 margin after two sets were in the books at O’Keefe. Tech was decisive control in the first two sets, posting 88% and 83% sideout percentages, while Louisville hovered in the 55-60% range. For those new to volleyball, the sideout is the volleyball statistic measuring a team’s efficacy at reception, meaning that the receiving team wins the right to serve. Teams with high sideout percentages are able to limit runs from the serving team and quickly regain the right to serve. Tech paired its 88% sideout with an attack percentage of .424, meaning that they limited errors and maximized kills on the attack, validated by their 16 kill to 2 error split on 33 attempts. The theme generally continued in the second, though Tech was unable to capitalize quite as efficiently on the attack, posting a .222 attack percentage versus the Cardinals’ .125.
O’Keefe was quite steamy on Friday night — unsurprisingly, given the odd storm-induced weather than essentially rendered the entire city of Atlanta a misty mirage — and it was early in the third when things took a hard turn. The game was delayed for approximately a half an hour as the court was dried, and the match was more or less in the hands of the visitors the rest of the match from there. Leading 2-1 out of the break, Louisville poured on the pressure and made critical adjustments to their blocking on Tech’s outside hitters, particularly Julia Bergmann. This effective switch is a hallmark of the last six years’ worth of Tech’s matches against the Cardinals, and it wound up carrying them to not just a set victory, but the match as a whole.
In the third through fifth sets, Tech hit at clips of .129, .130, and .045 while their guests were above .400 in the third and fourth on the way to their victory. Tech wasn’t particularly susceptible to errors, but Louisville made just 8 down the stretch. Tech’s outside hitters, Bergmann, Tamara Otene, and Bianca Bertolino, finished with .203, .114, and .147 hit percentages, while Erin Moss and Breland Morrissette posted .308 and .375 rates among Tech’s middles, with them all racking up 26, 9, 6, 6, and 8 kills, respectively. On the day, Tech was effective in service and at the net, with six Tech athletes combining for just 5 errors in service and five combining for nine total blocks.
This loss was not only a miss in the mission to notch one of Tech’s biggest profile wins in the long arc of history, but also in the quest for a top win, better firming up Tech’s hopes for hosting games on the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. In positive progress to note, Tech’s two sets won over Louisville were their most since November 18th, 2016, a 3-1 win at O’Keefe, and Tech has taken 3 sets from Louisville in their two matches this year, as well as 1 last year in their NCAA Tournament match at Freedom Hall, which itself represented the first set won over Louisville in the previous 22 sets dating back to that 2016 match.
The Jackets have three games, including a massive road contest at Pittsburgh the day before Thanksgiving, to round out the season in stride.
Tech headed west to Huntsville for the NCAA South Regionals this past weekend, and the Jackets finished in 6th on the women’s side and 7th on the men’s side in the competition. This result means that the meet will be their last team race of the season, as only the top two teams in each regional automatically qualify for the national championships, with the rest of the 31 team field consisting of at-large bids, with the next four finishers from teams not automatically qualifying for the championship selected, provided they are in the top 25 finishers, along with two other at-large individuals.
Fortunately, Tech’s Liz Galarza found herself among the top four finishers from teams not automatically qualified to move on, which means she will head to Stillwater next weekend. Galarza’s 19:55.40 in the 6K earned her 8th place overall, and Tech’s Helena Lindsay and Kate Jortberg also finished in the top 25 in the event. The women finished behind Alabama, Florida State, Ole Miss, Lipscomb, and Tennessee in the team totals.
Among Tech’s men, James Cragin was the Jackets’ top finisher, and his 30:19.20 proved good enough for a 22nd place finish. All other Tech men were outside of the top 50 overall, and the Tech men’s team score slotted them in behind Tennessee, Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, and Lipscomb.
Next up, Galarza will be in Stillwater for the NCAA Championships next Saturday, which will represent the conclusion of the cross country season.
Tech (2-0) defeats Georgia State 60-42 and Kennesaw State 65-39
The Jackets got things started this past week by continuing the University System of Georgia theme that they and the men have used to kickstart the season. After a somewhat dicey 69-62 Clayton State exhibition win last week, Tech’s relatively fresh-faced team with a revamped offense looked to continue to get game minutes and gel as the season kicked off officially. With both Georgia State and Kennesaw State visiting Midtown — interestingly, two schools that can largely thank Clean, Old Fashioned Hate in the halls of the Golden Dome for existing in their current forms — it was up to Tech to turn a new leaf now that the season started in earnest, and they certainly did that with the relatively uneventful results.
In the first game, Tech got off to a hot start against Georgia State, and they largely would not look back after pulling out to an early 12-5 first quarter margin. The teams changed leads just once in the first, and once Tech put themselves ahead, they were ahead for good. A patented third quarter nap ™ resulted in the only quarter where the margin turned in favor of the Panthers, but Tech was ahead by enough and added to it in the fourth so that it was really mostly for naught on behalf of the visitors. The final margin of 60-42 was on the back of generally competent work from the field, coupled with a rather high free throw percentage for a Tech basketball program, finishing at a 87.5% rate from the stripe. Tech’s top scorers were transfers Cameron Swartz and Bianca Jackson, which will be wholly unsurprising to those who have followed From the Rumble Seat’s women’s basketball coverage thus far. Six other Jackets found themselves in the points, while 11 players saw the floor, an astonishingly and delightfully deep bench. Swartz was effective from three, finishing 3-7, while Tech dominated on the glass, out-rebounding State 50-30, with six Tech players finishing with at least five boards. Even better, no Tech player found themselves in much foul trouble, another thing to look on improving from previous editions of the team.
Tech’s second contest of the week was a Sunday matinee against Kennesaw State. When things were said and done, Tech finished the game having not trailed in game action since Georgia State’s 2-0 lead to open that contest, roughly equivalent to 78 minutes of game time. Accordingly, one would deduce that the Jackets were effective against Kennesaw, which was certainly true. The Jackets outscored the Owls in each quarter, the closest being a 16-15 margin in the third. Kennesaw did not do themselves any particular favors with respect to ball security, and Tech managed 26 points off of 19 turnovers. The Jackets had three players in double figures, Kara Dunn, Kayla Blackshear, and the aforementioned Swartz. Tech was less effective from distance, shooting three pointers at a 25% clip, with Tonie Morgan (0-4) and Swartz (5-9) being the outliers, while their interior offense was better, shooting field goals overall at a 39% clip. 13 players saw the floor for Tech in the game, with all contributing at least something to the box score. Other odds and ends include another good game with respect to fouls, though Tech did less to capitalize going the other direction, shooting at a 66.7% rate from the line on their way to the 65-39 win.
All in all, the first week of the season was exactly what it needed to be for Tech. With the Jackets headed to Auburn for a homecoming of sorts for coaches Nell Fortner and Blanche Alverson before a Sunday renewal of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate on the basketball court, more will become known about the team after the coming week. Provided the current trends continue for another week, it would be worth keeping a side eye at the “others receiving votes” category of the AP and Coaches Polls after this coming week’s action.
In the Club House:
Tech headed to Huntsville for the Veteran’s Cup this weekend, where they played games against Auburn on Friday and the school in Athens on Saturday. Tech took the first game on Friday night in tight, 3-2 fashion, as it took an overtime winner to put the Jackets ahead in the contest. This win set up the Saturday game as the deciding factor in the chase for the weekend’s trophy, and it was another close game, though one that went in favor of the Athenians. The 3-1 margin was Tech’s second loss to the Athenians in the fall slate, which is now concluded.
Tech headed to Tallahassee this weekend for CCS Regionals. The Jackets won, but neither CCS nor GTSC has posted any actual results, so your guess is as good as mine as to what happened.
11/16 — at Auburn [8:00 PM, SECN+]
11/20 — Clean, Old Fashioned Hate [2:00 PM, ACC Network]
11/18 — at Clemson [8:00 PM, ACCNX]
Swimming and Diving:
11/17-19 — UGA Invite [10:00 AM]
11/19 — NCAA Championships (Stillwater, OK) [TBD]
11/17 — Northern Illinois [8:00 PM, ACC Network]
11/19 — at North Carolina-Chapel Hill [5:30 PM, ESPN2]