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Georgia Tech Kicks Off 2008 Campaign at Georgia Bulldog Invitational

Aug. 27, 2008

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ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech volleyball team will open the 2008 season against a familiar foe this weekend when it begins play in the Georgia Bulldog Invitational at 7 p.m. Friday against Georgia at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga. Georgia State and Furman will also compete in the tournament, and the Yellow Jackets will play both teams Sunday.

“The importance of this [first] match needs no explanation to any Tech fan,” Georgia Tech head coach Bond Shymansky said. “Our team has been focused on this match since the first day of pre-season. We know that playing in Athens will provide an extra challenge for us, and we are counting on support from our faithful fans. Our teams are evenly matched. We both have some returning stars in addition to new people in the line-up, so we expect it to be a tough battle and some great volleyball.”

Tech returns nine letterwinners from the 2007 squad that posted a 22-10 overall record and finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Seven of the nine returnees were starters for the Jackets last year, and five are entering their senior season on the Flats.

        Georgia Bulldog Invitational Schedule        Friday: Georgia State vs. Furman, 4:30 p.m.                Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.        Sunday: Georgia State vs. Georgia Tech, 10 a.m.                Georgia vs. Furman, 12:30 p.m.                Furman vs. Georgia Tech, 4 p.m.                Georgia vs. Georgia State, 7 p.m.

Georgia Tech’s offense is run by senior setter Allie Niekamp (11.88 Apg in 2007) and led by senior outside hitter Talisa Kellogg (3.96 Kpg) and senior middle hitter Callie Miller (2.25 Kpg/0.84 Bpg). The Jackets’ defense is anchored by senior libero Michelle Kandell (4.87 Dpg).

Game Coverage: A live video broadcast of Tech’s match against Georgia will be available online for no charge by visiting and clicking on the link for GXtra. Live stats for every match in the Georgia Bulldog Invitational will be available at

The Teams of Late

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets enter the 2008 season with roles to fill on the outside and in the middle. Junior Brittany Roderick will have her first shot starting on the right side following the graduation of two-time honorable mention All-American Ulrike Stegemann, while Tech will have to rely on freshmen for other key roles in the front row in 2008. Bailey Hunter and Alison Campbell are challenging each other for the second outside hitting role as Chrissy DeMichelis continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, while an international freshman, Asia Stawicka, should see quite a bit of playing time as the Jackets’ second middle hitter. The Jackets are very deep both in the back row and at setter, with numerous veteran players available to step into starting roles throughout the season.

Georgia – The Bulldogs return nine letterwinners from the 2007 team that went 17-13, including outside hitter Maria Taylor, who spent the summer competing on the USA National A2 team with Tech standout Talisa Kellogg. Georgia lost their starting setter Mara Martin and top backrow player Renee Johnson but return their top blocker in Lindsay Gehan.

Georgia State – Georgia State, 51-69 under current head coach Mike Webster, enters the 2008 season with eight returning letterwinners and four starters back from the 2007 squad that went 16-14. The Panthers lost their setter and top two outside hitters but return their libero (Audrey Cantrell) and middle blocker, Michelle Trimble.

Furman – The Paladins are coming off a stellar 20-9 campaign in 2007 and have nine returning letterwinners, including setter Kelsey Salava, outside hitter Alison West and middle blockers Nicole Palazzo and Emily Harby.

Tech vs. the Opponents (Georgia leads Tech, 21-9, Tech leads Georgia State, 32-3; Series with Furman tied, 7-7)

Georgia Tech is just 9-21 all-time against Georgia, but enters the weekend riding a two-match winning streak against the Bulldogs. The Jackets are 6-1 against their in-state rival Georgia since Bond Shymansky took over the program in 2002 and have taken nine of the last 10 matches from the Bulldogs.

Tech is 32-3 all-time against Georgia State and has won eight straight matches against the Panthers, including five under Shymansky. Tech’s last loss to Georgia State came during the 1998 season.

Furman and Georgia Tech last met in 1998, with the Yellow Jackets winning a 3-0 match against the Paladins in Greenville. Tech has won three straight matches against Furman, and the last loss to the Paladins came in 1990.

Roommates Battling Outside

When the Jackets and Bulldogs meet Friday night, fans are sure to see a battle between two of the top outside hitters in the nation in Tech’s Talisa Kellogg and Georgia’s Maria Taylor, but you wouldn’t know the two played against each other if you met them off the court. Kellogg and Taylor are long-time friends dating back to the 2004 season when they played and roomed together as part of the USA Junior National A2 Training Team. The two were also roommates this past summer when they competed on the 2008 USA National Senior A2 Team together, helping the squad to the bronze medal at the U.S. Open Championships in Atlanta.

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