ATLANTA, GEORGIA — After a summer of things like enjoying Atlanta’s food and parks, along with biking, it has been quite a change to take in four live sporting events in the past six days. Between football and volleyball, events are fully in swing on the Flats, and the two have quite a bit of the season left to go. In addition, golf is in action with their traditional first appearance of the year at the Maui Jim Invitational — it’s in Scottsdale, for those who might be confused, as I was the first time I heard of it — and the first club sports action of the year via GT Hockey, as well.
Tech handles #10 BYU 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-14)
Tech is outlasted by #8 Ohio State 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23)
I would say that, on the whole, it was a learning experience of a weekend. It is incredibly difficult to be upset that Tech challenged themselves, scheduling-wise, in the non-conference schedule, given that the opponents that visited O’Keefe this weekend were some of the best to have come to town in recent memory. Thus, a win against a top ten BYU team, and a convincing one, at that, and a close loss to another top ten team in Ohio State with some identifiable points to take away moving forward is a rather solid place to be in after the Georgia Tech Classic. As noted at the beginning of the year, as well as eluded to above, this year’s non-conference slate is one of the best ever assembled for Tech. Coupled with the rising tide of the ACC, this regular season will prove to be a gauntlet for Tech, who currently sits at 6-1 with one weekend of pre-ACC play remaining.
In the first game, Tech sputtered out of the gate. With the visitors leading 3-1 (or thereabouts, the exact margin isn’t terribly important), their fans were quite rowdy and excitable. While it would wrong to say it all went south for BYU from there, it was really about as big of a lead as the guests would take all evening, as a four point margin a bit later in the first set proved to be the most sizable lead the guests would take. As has been a bit of a theme this year, Tech’s slow start eventually melted away as the Jackets got into the pace of the game. Of note, BYU’s attack was most effective in the first, which is belied by the margin, as well as the set being tied as late as 17-17. On the whole, the first set was generally tight, as the teams traded longer streaks of momentum, but Tech led the way on the attack, had an effective 65% sideout percentage, all despite doubling up BYU in errors, as well.
BYU generally played a longer lineup than Tech in the first, but this trend was even more pronounced in the second, as Tech sent the minimum 7 players to the floor in both the second and third, while 12 BYU players were in the mix. Tech again started slow, with BYU holding a lead all the way to the 15-15 mark. It is notable that the visitors notched a few more service errors than their season average, as Tech’s sellout crowd was certainly loud, but, from my vantage point, somewhat pocketed with some no-shows, or perhaps lacking some of the vigor of a good rivalry match along the lines of some historic games against Notre Dame, Florida State, or the school out East.
On thing that was noticeable in the Thursday night match was Tech’s inability to close out the match, requiring more than one set point in every set before finishing them out. That is about as notable as a conclusion that can be draw from the third set, though, as Tech roared out of the gate, upending the slow start narrative. The Jackets, at one point, were nearly tripling up the Cougars in terms of total points. However, a quiet spell towards the end of the third didn’t necessarily make it competitive, but it did make the game decidedly closer than the absolute demolition that it could have otherwise been, as the long flat line in the third set of the race plot included below indicates.
heeeeere’s the race plot for tonight’s game vs BYU— From the Rumble Seat (@FTRSBlog) September 9, 2022
this team is absurd pic.twitter.com/qEUN0A4afC
The second game of the weekend seemingly brought together a number of Tech’s growth opportunities from the nascent season together in one singular match. Tech has seemingly struggled at times to get out of their own way, as a number of points have seen Tech players knocking into each other or going for the same ball, while others see an over-reliance on Julia Bergmann or a quick over on the attack, even when the Buckeyes were dialing up three blockers or had defenders in space, and still more showed general procedural errors, which are tough to yield against a highly talented opposing team. Of course, Tech is also a team that had not, prior to Sunday, lost a match. They are quite talented themselves, and certainly one of the top teams in the country. All this begs the question: how did it happen?
Rare is the day in which Tech plays a longer lineup than their opponent. On Sunday, the Jackets announced their typical starting lineup — Bianca Bertolino, Paola Pimentel, Tamara Otene, Isabella D’Amico, Breland Morrissette, Julia Bergmann, and Erin Moss — but despite an even start, that experienced bunch found themselves slowly being outpaced by the Buckeyes. Once again, Tech yielded a long scoreless streak, though this one came with them already behind Ohio State. From there, the set would more or less stay generally out of reach for the Jackets. Of note, the .000 attack percentage for Tech in the first is the lowest I can recall seeing for the Jackets in quite some time. Of course, that same figure being under .200 for the winning side is also surprising, and it belies a generally inefficient set by both sides. 11 errors by the Jackets is a startlingly high figure, relative to past performance.
Interestingly, despite Ohio State jumping above the volleyball Mendoza Line, if you will, Tech rocketed all the way to .400, an excellent showing, and their minimization of errors relative to the first set is a big reason why they generally spent the entirety of the second set in the driver’s seat. However, in the third and fourth sets, this attack efficiency would again subside, as Tech’s errors mounted once more, including another long low-scoring drought in the third. The Jackets showed a lot of resilience in that set, though, scoring 8 points to Ohio state’s one to get right back in the set. However, trading points the rest of the way put the set out of reach.
In the fourth, Tech was able to mount a steady lead late, but ceded the lead back as the end of the set neared. A few quick points for the guests combined with a scoreless streak for Tech put the momentum on the side of the Buckeyes, but a crucial challenge going the way of Ohio State, somehow overturning the call on the court, combined with a bit of referee-awarded points in favor of the guests did Tech in to close the match.
I generally dislike critiquing referees — it’s a hard job — but, especially with the game on the line, calling ticky-tack fouls is pretty tough, and on the day, there certainly seemed to be a lot more of them called on the home team than the guests. Perhaps there really were more, as my count is by no means scientific, but calling a lift or a two hand touch but missing them when they happen in the other direction definitely affects the outcome of the match.
But no matter, there’s a reason the sets are played to 25 and it takes three sets to win a match. A lot of those things do come out in the wash, and Ohio State also played very well throughout the match. This could very well not be the last time these two teams face each other this year.
Here's the plot from today's match. Also of note, Tech will be in Athens on Saturday, for the record. pic.twitter.com/RymtQexXB2— From the Rumble Seat (@FTRSBlog) September 12, 2022
Tech plays Arkansas in Fayetteville this Thursday evening, while a nightcap in Athens on Saturday will bring the non-conference season to a close. Tech will next be at O’Keefe to host Wake Forest and Virginia Tech the weekend of September 23rd.
Tech started the weekend slowly, with an eleventh place showing through one day of play in Scottsdale. The lineup for the Jackets included Connor Howe, Ross Steelman, Bartley Forrester, Christo Lamprecht, and Aidan Tran. Among the Tech lineup, the first four are familiar faces for the Jackets, with Howe and Forrester having played several seasons for the Jackets, Steelman has been a regular starter since transferring from Missouri, and Lamprecht is on his third season at or near the top of the card, as well. Tran, meanwhile, is a freshman in his first event with Tech.
Though the first round (-5) was not particularly fruitful for Tech, they were able to capitalize on the second and third day, posting margins of -13 and -16 to vault up the leaderboard to a fourth place finish on the weekend. In the final day of play, the Jackets were able to make up 5 places, and their -16 as a team proved the best score posted on Sunday, showing once again that on any given day, Tech has the ability to post a world-beating round. However, it was a bit too little too late, as Auburn had already taken a commanding lead, finishing 45 under par on the weekend compared to Tech’s 34. Tech’s best individual round on the weekend was Forrester’s -7 on Saturday, while -5s on Sunday from Lamprecht, Howe, and Tran spread the productivity around most of the lineup.
Individually, Howe would post Tech’s best performance, with his tie for third place coming on the back of that impressive Sunday performance, finishing -13 on the weekend. Steelman, Tran, and Forrester also finished in the top 25, with Steelman tying for 21st with a -6 on the weekend and Tran and Forrester tying for 24th at -5. Of note, Tran’s -5 round on Sunday was good for a 28 place improvement relative to his Saturday finish.
Tech is next in action at the Inverness Intercollegiate at the Inverness Club in Toledo starting September 26th.
From the Club House:
Well, I think hockey should be 4-0 after their opening two weekends of play. However, based on the most recent tweet from the team, it appears shootouts don’t count, per CHF rules, so that makes Tech 3-0-1 on the year. The two weekends included pairs of games against both Alabama-Huntsville and Middle Tennessee State. Overall, it seems to be a strong start on the Jackets’ return quest to their national championship tournament after an excellent finish to the season and deep playoff run last year. The scores from the four games that have already been played can be found below, and Tech will next be in action on the road in Orlando next weekend, with the next home game coming September 30th at the Atlanta IceForum.
UAH: 6-3 [W], 8-0 [W]
MTSU: 8-4 [W], 3-3 [T]
9/15 — at Arkansas [8:00 PM, TBD, presumably SECN+]
9/17 — in Athens [7:00 PM, TBD, presumably SECN+]
9/16 — North Alabama Invitational [7:30 AM] (Huntsville, AL)
9/16-18 — Debbie Southern Furman Fall Classic [ALL DAY] (Greenville, SC)
9/16-18 — UTR Columbus [ALL DAY] (Columbus, GA)
Swimming and Diving:
9/16-17 — Intrasquad [2:00 PM, 7:00 AM]
9/17 — Ole Miss [3:00 PM, ABC]