Dig It Up

Oct. 14, 2010

By Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

In volleyball, the dig is a defensive move that begins the transition to offense.

In tonight’s match between Georgia Tech (11-7, 4-3) and North Carolina (15-5, 6-1) at O’Keefe Gymnasium (a 7:00 p.m. start), the dig will begin an offensive with repercussions going far beyond volleyball.

It’s Dig for the Cure night at O’Keefe, Georgia Tech’s night to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer.

For senior setter Mary Ashley Tippins and assistant coach Craig Bere, it’s a fight that is quite personal.

“My mom has been battling cancer for like 15 years now,” said Tippins. “This night is very important to me, just the fact that it is my mom and that it is for a good cause.”

“It means a lot. It’s an opportunity to give back and show support,” added Bere. “It’s huge across the country and has been a phenomenal thing, just to see how almost every collegiate program has stepped up, they’re doing this and they’re donating money and they’re fundraising, and giving back to The Cure.

“It’s hard to express what that means to the people out there that need this,” he continued. “I’m thankful my mother has been through it and successfully. So that’s great, but not everyone has that situation. So it’s good to see people putting forth some money and donations, fundraising and time and effort into the cure and the cause.”

The Yellow Jackets will don pink uniforms and encourage fans to wear pink in a show of support. Adding to the atmosphere, pink shakers will be handed out at the door. (Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children and seniors.)

A number of souvenirs will be for sale, including pink t-shirts and visors, and a special $5 raffle will be held. Prizes include a pink iPod, an autographed pink volleyball, and a one night stay at the Courtyard Marriott with two tickets to a future volleyball match. Fans also are encouraged to make a donation — either a flat pledge or one based on the total number of digs. All money raised will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Senior Libero Jordan McCullers is more fired up than usual to go digging.

“It’s a cause very close to our hearts, with Mary Ashley’s mom and her history with breast cancer. We take it very seriously,” said McCullers, who enters the match eighth in the ACC with 274 digs (3.97 per set) and who is 28 away from cracking the school’s all-time top 10. “We’re very excited to be able to play and perform for such a good cause.

“Everybody on the team has somebody that they know or somebody that they love that’s had to deal with breast cancer,” she added. “So this game for me, and I know for ‘Mash,’ we’re definitely playing for her mom tomorrow night.”

Sophomore Nicki Meyer, a fellow Libero, who has been instrumental in Tech’s back-to-back road sweeps over the past two weekends (more on that in the coming days) is excited to participate in her first Dig for the Cure match.

“I didn’t play in the match last year so I’m excited,” she said. “I’ll definitely keep in mind while I’m playing that every dig means something for real. That’s exciting.

“Information being spread can make a huge difference,” she added. “That’s where it all starts. That really is the most important part, getting the word out and telling people and spreading information.”

“It’s kind of sad that [breast cancer] is so relevant in so many people’s lives today,” said Tippins. “Playing [tonight], as much as we want to win — it’s our home court, it’s another game, another ACC victory that we want — we want to win just for that cause, too.”

While Tippins said she’d have preferred the pledged donations be based on the number of assists, she stated that she’s prepared to give her all to get digs.

“Right now I’m getting a lot more digs than I usually do,” she said. “So maybe it’s good that it’s ‘Dig for the Cure.’ I hope I get a lot of digs [tonight].”

She’s determined to make sure her teammates aren’t shy of hitting the floor as well.

“If they don’t (dive) I will make them,” she said, with a laugh.

She won’t have to worry about McCullers.

“‘Dig for the Cure’ just happens to be right up my alley,” she said. “I’m expected to bring out the most digs. ‘Mash’ has beaten me the last couple of games but I’m definitely hoping to put up big numbers to help our team win and to dig for the cure.’

Bere said that a first-rate volleyball match between two heated ACC rivals makes a nice reward for fans making it to O’Keefe.

“North Carolina is coming in with a lot of confidence and we’re coming off the road with four wins,” he said. “It should be a battle, it should be fun, a great environment, and we hope to see a big crowd.”

For more information on Susan G. Komen for the Cure, please visit: http://ww5.komen.org/.

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