After an uncomplicated sweep of Wright State on Thursday in Marquette’s Al McGuire Center, #5 seed Georgia Tech got swept by the hosts on Friday in frustrating fashion (25-23, 25-20, 25-19). The first set was certianly winnable, with Tech up 23-22 before allowing three straight points and having been up 6-2 early in the set. The score was tied seven times leading up to the 23-22 lead. Jenna Reitsma’s block of Erin Moss sealed the set for the #4 seed and AVCA 16th ranked Golden Eagles.
Ella Foti in the second set hit back-to-back kills followed by a return error by Julia Bergmann to give Marquette a 19-15 lead, providing a wide enough gap en route to their 25-20 set win. Bianca Bertolino did finish the set with three of her seven total kills.
By the time the third set had found its wheels, it was already over for the Jackets. Aubrey Hamilton hit six kills in eight points to give Marquette a 7-1 lead. Tech did rally back mostly via Marquette offensive mistakes to 9-8. Momentum swept back the Golden Eagles’ way immediately after through a three point run. After some back and fourth, Marquette went on a four point run to go ahead 21-14, and held serve to win 25-19, clinching a spot in the Sweet 16.
It was the final collegiate game for fifth-year Breland Morrissette and Julia Bergmann, who has publicly stated she will turn pro after graduating instead of using her extra year of eligibility granted from the Covid year. Bergmann led all Jackets with 13 kills in the 2nd round matchup, hitting only .195%, her eighth game of the season hitting under .200%. Morrissette also had a lackluster game compared to her recent play, scoring 4 kills on a .200 hit %. Bianca Bertolino was the only Jacket with 10+ digs at 14.
No Jacket reached 0.5 in total WPA. Marquette’s Yadhira Anchante had a 0.31 WPA in serving alone as part of her 1.23 effort to lead all players. Paola Pimentel was the only starter for Tech to have a positive serve WPA.
Attack distribution per usual favored Bergmann, who had 41 attacks. Bertolino and Tamara Otene had 25 and 21 attacks respectively, neither crossing the 10 kill mark.
This final game had familiar pain points that Tech showed throughout the season but never fully could escape. Marquette is definitely a good team, but outside of Pitt, Louisville, and maybe Ohio State, every other team they played was beatable. This was Tech not playing at their highest level, and letting that lack be overtaken by an opponent skilled enough to capitalize on a bad day at the office. The Jackets only hit .172% as a team and allowed over half of their attacks to be dug. The ferocity and anihillation this Jacket team had in them just didn’t come out.
Sadly, we don’t have another match to see them rebound from this. It’s the same story we saw against Miami, Arkansas, and for two sets against Florida State in Tallahassee. For what it’s worth, a win would’ve put Tech against the #1 team in the country, Texas, and they are on a tier Tech never reached this season.
A Couple Notes
This ends the third consecutive “normal” season Tech has won 20+ games. Bergmann’s 10 kills against Wright State moved her to 7th all time in Tech single-season kills. Her 13 against Marquette puts her at 538 for the season, her single-season record.
Bella D’Amico broke the 1,000 assist mark against Wright State, finishing with 1,040 on the season after the 2nd round loss, averaging 10.1 assists per set.
We’ll have a season recap piece coming later, but let’s not forget that this was a historic season for Georgia Tech Volleyball, and easily one of the best in program history. Michelle Collier, who is now 2nd all-time in wins by a head coach for the Jackets, has clearly built a machine that runs on the expectation of winning and has the talent to back it up. We got to see an international star in Julia Bergmann play every weekend. O’Keefe was routinely sold out and the loudest spot on campus.
While very much too far out to hypothesize about next year’s roster, we do know D’Amico, Bertoliono, Otene, Pimentel, and Moss are the starters with eligilbility left. D’Amico, Bertolino, and Otene are the only ones listed in their sophomore or junior year.
The rest of the NCAA Tournament can be viewed on the ESPN family of networks and sreaming platform.