Aug. 31, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. – Brittany Roderick pounded out 15 kills and Asia Stawicka notched nine block assists to lift Georgia Tech to a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17-25-17, 25-17) victory over Furman, helping the Yellow Jackets win the title of the 2008 Georgia Bulldog Invitational with a 3-0 record on opening weekend.
“This is a good start for our season,” said Georgia Tech head coach Bond Shymansky. “We know that every weekend after this will continue to get tougher, but it’s a big confidence boost for our younger players [to win the title] and a reminder for the veterans that it takes supreme focus and work ethic on the road to earn victories.”
Roderick, a junior in her first year as Tech’s starting right side hitter, eclipsed her previous career high of nine kills by posting 12 over the last two sets of the match. After opening the first set with three errors and no kills on four attempts, she tallied 15 kills to just one error on 21 attempts through the next three sets to pace the Yellow Jacket offense. She finished the match with a .440 hitting percentage.
“Brittany has a big role to fill within the team,” Shymansky said. “But we have high expectations for her in that position. After a slow start in the tournament, she showed why she can be so versatile as a right side attacker. I know that, as she gets more confident and develops a stronger vision, she’ll be a great terminator for us this season.”
The Jackets tallied 12 blocks against the Paladins, and Stawicka led the way with a season-best nine. Roderick had four block assists on the night, while Callie Miller and Alison Campbell added three apiece.
“We had solid play from our freshman outside hitter Alison Campbell and senior middle hitter Callie Miller, and it is good that we have that balance so that we don’t have to rely so heavily on our returning starters,” Shymansky said.
With 15 kills against the Paladins, Campbell finished the tournament with 48 kills in the three matches against Georgia, Georgia State and Furman.
Libero Michelle Kandell again led Tech’s back row defensive efforts, tallying 14 digs in the match to bring her tournament total to 42, earning her the honor of the tournament’s most valuable player.
“It isn’t often that you have a libero as a tournament MVP, but her passing, defense and serving were spectacular all weekend long,” Shymansky said. “Michelle has really established herself as one of the best liberos in the country, and we’re looking forward to having her anchoring that back row for the rest of the year.”
The Jackets started off slowly in the first set, committing 11 errors while tallying just 11 kills in the frame. They took a late 23-21 lead, but the Paladins picked up the win by closing out the set on a 4-0 run, capped by a service ace from Alison West.
Tech used a 5-0 run, which included a pair of service aces from Callie Miller, to take a 10-7 lead in set two. It then added a late 4-0 run that included two more aces from Stephanie Robbins to run away with the second set, 25-17. The Jackets entered the frame averaging 1.84 service aces per set as a team, but tallied five in the second set alone against the Paladins.
Roderick led the Jackets to a 25-17 win in the third set by posting seven kills and no errors on eight attempts while adding a pair of block assists. Leading by just one point at 5-4, Tech took control of the set with a 9-1 run that included two block assists and a pair of kills from Roderick.
Tech closed out the match on a 5-1 run and the Yellow Jackets hit .406 (17-4-32) to win, 25-17. Tech added three more service aces in the frame to bring its match total to 11, a season high for the Jackets.
Georgia Tech will open the doors to O’Keefe Gym for the first time this season when they host the 2008 Regency Suites Classic at home next weekend. The tournament begins Friday with Georgia State and Xavier squaring off at 4 p.m. with the Jackets’ first match of the event beginning at 7 p.m. that evening against Arkansas. Tech continues the tournament Saturday when it hosts Xavier at 5 p.m. and close out the weekend at 2 pm. Sunday against Michigan.
“We are excited about our home opener this coming week, and we know that we are going to have to play in top form to earn our tournament title,” Shymansky added.
2008 Georgia Invitational All-Tournament Team
Michelle Kandell, Libero, Georgia Tech, MVP
Callie Miller, Middle Hitter, Georgia Tech
Alison Campbell, Outside Hitter, Georgia Tech
Valentina Gonzalez, Middle Blocker, Georgia
Kathleen Gates, Setter, Georgia
Nikki Palazzo, Middle Blocker, Furman
Audrey Cantrell, Libero, Georgia State