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All The Buzz

Aug. 22, 2010

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Heading into the 2009 season there was little talk about the Georgia Tech volleyball team, which was picked eighth in the ACC preseason poll.

That changed quickly, as the team jumped out to a 7-2 start, ended the season on a 7-2 run, and in between made several statements, the biggest coming Oct. 2 in Tallahassee, Fla. With a dramatic and emotionally draining five-set upset of then-No. 17 Florida State, the Yellow Jackets handed the eventual ACC champions its only conference loss.

Tech went on to earn the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth in five years.

Prior to this 2010 season, the conference’s coaches have learned their lesson. This time they ranked the Jackets third in the ACC, behind only Florida State and Duke. In addition, Tech had four players named to the preseason All-ACC team:

Senior setter Mary Ashley, an honorable mention All-Americanand All-ACC performer who led the conference in assists. Seniorlibero/defensive specialist Jordan McCullers. Junior outside hitter Bailey Hunter. Sophomore right-side Hitter Monique Mead, an honorable mention All-American, All-ACC,All-ACC Freshman and the ACC Freshman of the Year.

That’s the most of any team in the ACC and will certainly take some of the sting from the graduation of outside hitter Chrissy DeMichelis and right-side hitter Brittany Roderick.

Still, head coach Tonya Johnson isn’t talking about rankings. Johnson, coming off her superb debut season as head coach on The Flats, has established the rallying cry “Breaking the Ranks” for the 2010 team.

Her team gave a sneak peek of how they planned to break said ranks Saturday afternoon, holding the White/Gold Match at O’Keefe Gymnasium.

The coach liked what she saw from her team, even though, as one might expect, it’s still a work in progress.

“I thought we competed well after going through double days the last couple of weeks,” said Johnson, who was 21-9 (15-5) in her first season. “There are certainly some things that we need to get better at and we will continue to work at them to get better. I’m excited about where we are at this point and look forward to this team progressing throughout the course of the season.”

Johnson and Co. open its 2010 season for real in less than a week, when the Jackets host the Georgia Tech Courtyard Marriott Classic. Tech’s first match will be at 7:00 p.m. against Indiana (the opening match, UAB vs. Alabama A&M, begins at 4:30). They’ll follow with a double-header on Saturday, beginning at 12:30 p.m., when they meet the A&M Bulldogs, the defending SWAC champions, then finish up at 7:00 against the UAB Blazers.

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