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#10 GT Volleyball sweeps San Diego

Tech finishes Georgia Tech Classic 2-1

Paola Pimentel led Tech with 15 digs
Zach Zunt - GTAA

ATLANTA — Two days after losing an emotionally charged match to Georgia in McCamish Pavilion, #10 Georgia Tech Volleyball swept San Diego 28-26, 25-21, 25-15 to finish the Georgia Tech Classic 2-1, and move to 9-1 on the season. Tamara Otene was left out of the starting lineup in favor of Leia Harper, who split about half of the points with Lauren Sanden at outside hitter.

For a sweep, this was not the cleanest match by far for Tech this season.

Set 1

Tech looked themselves in the first bit of the first set moving the ball and finding kills. Collier’s first swap for Lauren Sanden came early, who San Diego targeted with their serves, scoring three in a row to go up 8-6. After Bianca Bertolino won a 50/50 ball at the net, Tech went on a six point run, and then a three point run to follow that, stretching the lead to 18-11. San Diego then eeked out a six point run to cut the Jacket lead to 20-18 and eventually tied it at 23 where Tech needed four set points to finally put it away 28-26.

Set 2

San Diego played solidly to start the second set, going up 4-1 early and maintaining a three to five point lead throughout the majority of the set. Tech repeatedly could not get high enough on the block, allowing multiple San Diego kills to be tipped at the net and land too far for any Jacket to dig. Ironically, Paola Pimentel had her best diving dig of the season to help win a point for Tech, making it 12-9.

San Diego’s defense played super well in the set, rarely allowing any kills off Larissa Mendes or Bertolino swings. After Collier successfully challenged a no-touch call to make it 16-12 San Diego, the Torero assistant coaches could be visibly seen mocking the referees signal calling by doing the macarena, which multiple players joined in on (their bench would later receive a yellow card for an unrelated reason).

Tech went on a three point run to tie it at 17, and then at 19-19 Tech finally broke away with a multi-point lead. A Liv Mogride kill on a free ball prompted a Torero timeout with Tech up 23-20 before their Kylie Pries attack error gave Tech the set win, 25-21.

Set 3

Tech kept their momentum to start the third set going up 5-3 with three fantastic kills by Leia Harper. Smiley Manyang then landed a thunderous kill to go up 8-4 and force a Torero timeout. Tech maintained a three to four point lead with the help of San Diego service errors and multiple Manyang kills through the middle of the set. Of all points in the match, this was the most consistent they played. Service errors were at a minimum, they were able to stay in system, they weren’t missing their spots on defense, and head coach Michelle Collier successfully challenged a call.

Tech closed out the match with a nine-point run, including three straight Mendes kills at the end, to win 25-15 and complete the sweep. Tech’s 9-1 nonconference mark clears the 7-2 record they had after last season, setting them up excellently for a stretch of winnable conference games coming up.

Three thoughts on the weekend (similar, but different from Friday’s)

  1. What’s up with Tamara Otene?: After a teamwide disappointing showing against Georgia, Otene only hit five kills at .050 against Howard. My guess is that Collier just wanted to give her time to reset and not force the issue if possible. If Sanden and Harper weren’t working out as well as they did, I could see Otene showing up today. But, thankfully, that wasn’t necessary, and hopefully she can find her form in Clemson on Wednesday.
  2. Smiley Manyang: Manyang might have earned herself a starting role today. In rotations every set coming in alongside Heloise Soares, Manyang landed kills hitting .700 playing less than half the available points. She has made the most of her playing time this weekend and seems to be the only Yellow Jacket hitter that can consistently find a line to place the ball. Also FYI for those potentially confused, while her legal first name is Afedo, Michelle Collier did remind me in our summer interview that she goes by Smiley.
  3. Bianca Bertolino’s serve: Today, Tech won 7/13 points Bertolino served on. For those that don’t know, her serve is an absolute missle faster than any ball you will see hit during a match. The problem though is that if she places it right at an opponent, she hits the ball so hard that the initial dig shoot super high in the air, giving plenty of time for the opposing attack to line up and set up a good shot. Winning over half her service points is above average, but the way in which San Diego was able to manage the points they won had me questioning whether Bertolino hitting her serve as hard as possible is actually helping win points. She can land aces with it, but today she didn’t to go along with two service errors.

Georgia Tech Volleyball next plays at Clemson to open conference play on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ACCN.

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

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