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#11 GT Volleyball sweeps South Alabama

Tech starts the Florida A&M Invitational on the right foot

Otene was the bright spot for Tech in a rudimentary game with 15 kills
GTAA via Twitter

#11 Georgia Tech Volleyball continued their winning ways with a three set sweep over the South Alabama Jaguars 25-15, 25-18, 25-23. This is the first of three games Tech will play at Florida A&M over the weekend with Stetson tomorrow and FAMU on Sunday.

Anything less than a sweep would’ve been considered an upset for Tech, as the Jackets came off two straight wins at then #12 Ohio State that were convincingly won. South Alabama came in at 6-1 and the 86th best team so far in the country according to HuskerGeek’s ViPR rankings, only having lost to FAMU who sits 218th in the same rankings.

Bianca Bertolino got things started for Tech with a kill and ace to put the Jackets up 2-0. The Jaguars crept back in with very good defense to close Tech’s lead to 4-3. Tech then won five of the next six points, which included a great Bertolino block. At worst, Tech’s lead shrunk to four at 18-14 after the Jaguars went on a three point run. A Liv Mogridge block forced South Alabama’s second timeout with Tech up 21-15, and Tech kept up what became a six point run to close out the set winning 25-15.

South Alabama hung in the second set much longer than they did the first, trading blows back and forth with Tech holding on to no more than a three point lead all the way to 10-9. Tech won five of the next seven points to go up 15-11, and then a four point run to go up 19-12 forced a Jaguar timeout. Tamara Otene hit two powerfull kills to close out the set 25-18 in Tech’s favor to go up 2-0.

The Jaguars in the third set found a groove that made things much tougher for Tech. After two aces and a block, South Alabama went up 6-3 and prompted Jackets Head Coach Michelle Collier to call timeout. Tech immediately put up three points to tie it at six before the Jaguars went on a four point run highlighted by two Hannah Maddux kills. Tech then did the same with two Otene aces to tie it at 10. It stayed back and forth all the way to a 15-14 South Alabama lead before Tech rolled off five consecutive points to go up 19-15 and provide their first cushion of the set. It nearly wasn’t enough as the Jaguars found one more four point run to tie it at 23 that coincided with Collier playing Heloise Soares instead of Bella D’Amico at setter. Massive kills by Otene and Bertolino though saved the set, giving Tech the 25-23 set win and the match.

Overall, Tamara Otene was the player of the game with 15 kills, .229 hit%, 14 digs, and 18.5 points. Liv Mogridge and Larissa Mendes were the only others to meet or exceed 10 points for Tech with 13.5 and 10 respectively. Bertolino did not have her best match, only recording seven kills with a .125 hit% and two aces and services errors apiece.

Paola Pimentel’s defense was clutch again as it was in Columbus after winning the ACC Defensive Player of the Week. She lead Tech with 20 digs while also hitting three aces.

Tech now is 5-0, losing only three sets all season.

Three Thoughts

  1. Weird weird atmosphere: For one, there were at most 20 people at this match. Pre-match image below for proof (and it did not change during the match).
Screenshot by Jack Purdy on Rattlers+

For player intros, the PA crew played the final Jeopardy theme song over and over, introducing the entirety of both teams. I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m not going to fault the people in Tallahassee for not being able to catch the 11th ranked team in the country on a mid-afternoon on a Friday, but this was wild to watch with so few people and jarring musical choices.

2. Vs. South Alabama history: Tech has played South Alabama in volleyball six times now. Tech is 4-2 and undefeated in the four previous matchups that dates back to 1993 (3-0 win). Tech swept them in 1998 at home and barely beat them 3-2 in 2018 at home as well.

3. Taking care of business during a “boring game”: The best teams in any sport do not fall flat in games they shouldn’t. The third set got a little too close, but Tech in no way lost their footing throughout the course of a match. Games like this can be sneaky hard if the clear favorite dozes off at how boring such a lopsided match can be. Tech did not do that. The Jaguars legitimately played well in the third set and forced the issue.

Georgia Tech Volleyball next plays tomorrow, September 9 against Stetson at 6:00 p.m. on Rattlers+ (subscripton required).

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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