ATLANTA — Of all matches this 2023 season, today was the one to forget for #8 Georgia Tech Volleyball, who were swept by the #7 Pitt Panthers (25-13, 25-14, 25-19) in just an hour and 26 minutes. Tech falls to 21-4 (12-3 ACC) with the loss and falls out of a tie for first place in the ACC. Pitt with the win remains atop the conference.
Tech’s offense had the day from hell, hitting .057 for the match, and an even worse -.069 in the first set, the only set all year Tech has hit below .000. The middle blocking was a complete no show unlike last week against Louisville. Pitt had their way with pretty much any shot from Olivia Babcock and Torrey Stafford, who finished with 16 and 10 kills respectively. The Panthers hit for a remarkably efficient .440.
Bianca Bertolino was the only offensive weapon that made a dent, hitting 13 kills at .579 plus one ace. She was the only Jacket with more than five points, finishing with 15.
On the flip side, Tamara Otene had a night nobody ever wants to see, hitting -.200 with five kills and 12 errors (16 total) on 35 attempts.
In Liv Mogridge watch: she did warm up today and was dressed to play, but did not appear in any set
The worst stretch of the season started off the match where Pitt scored the opening 10 points during which Tech could not find an iota of offensive rhythm despite Valeria Vazquez Gomez serving relatively easy to return serves. Collier swapped to her 6-2 formation with Heloise Soares and Smiley Manyang down 11-2, and from there Tech won eight of their next 13 points including a five point run. Upon going back to the 5-1 with D’Amico and Mendes,
2nd set (1-0 Pitt)
The second set started a tad better with the starting seven going up 3-1 before Pitt tied it at 3-3 and 4-4. From there, Olivia Babcock singlehandedly had a three point run with a massive kill and two consecutive aces to help put Pitt up 8-5. That run jilted Tech and they never recovered. Mendes played her way out of the set after hitting a ball eight feet long and was replaced by Leia Harper. Otene’s hit percentage dipped down to -.304 with eight errors. Only Bertolino put any life in this team with two late kills that was far too little too late. Pitt took the set 25-14.
3rd set (2-0 Pitt)
Heloise Soares started at setter in the third set, the only set where Tech had any sign of life. Bertolino landed a solid kill early plus a block along with a Pimentel ace to go up 5-3. Tech’s lead slowly grew to five on what was a rare Tamara Otene kill, putting Tech up 12-7. Pitt won four of the next five points, forcing Collier to burn a timeout up 13-11, where Mendes was subbed out for Lauren Sanden after missing a couple block attempts. From there, Tech reverted back to their earlier selves, allowing a nine point run by the Panthers which all but about wrapped up the match. Pitt won the final set 25-19, their sixth consecutive set won over Tech.
Kills: Olivia Babcock (Pitt) - 15
Assists: Rachel Fairbanks (Pitt) - 33
Digs: Rachel Fairbanks (Pitt) - 8
Points: Olivia Babcock (Pitt) - 10
Hit % (min. 10 attempts): Olivia Babcock (Pitt) - .652
Blocks: Emma Monks (Pitt) - 8
- Just a bad day, or is Pitt that much better? I don’t know how to answer this question with the Louisville win. Pitt has beat the everlasting life out of Tech in the last six sets they’ve played against each other, yet Tech has been finding ways to get better without Liv Mogridge. Today specifically, I think I lean on it was a bad day. You just can’t hit below .100 against a top 10 team in two separate sets and expect to compete. There were a couple bits of momentum going Tech’s way, but one could say it was too little too late by the 11th point of the first set.
- The gaping middle: Smiley Manyang, DeAndra Pierce, and Anna Boezi had the game of their lives against Louisville. Tonight, the size disadvantage was a game changer. There wasn’t a shot Pitt couldn’t find. Tech finished with two blocks all night. That can not lose you a match if your offense is clicking, but when there’s no offense to be seen, the middles have to step up, and they simply didn’t. If there was ever a game Tech missed Liv Mogridge the most, it was this one, and she was available to play.
#8 Georgia Tech Volleyball next plays Friday, November 17 at Miami at 7 p.m. on ACCNX
Jack Purdy is a non-revenue sports writer and co-host of Scions of the Southland for From the Rumble Seat. He previously served as The Technique’s assistant sports editor before graduating Georgia Tech in 2022. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackNicolaus