ATLANTA – For only the second time in school history, Georgia Tech’s (23-6, 13-3) volleyball team will head to the 21st annual Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Winston-Salem, NC, as the No. 1 seed.
The ACC regular season co-champions, the Jackets are set to square off against the ninth seed, NC State (1-15, 8-21) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. During the regular season, Tech won both matches against the Wolfpack, including a 3-0 victory last week in Atlanta.
‘We are really happy to be seeded number one heading into the tournament,’ said Collier. ‘I think the best route to the ACC championship is clearly as the number one seed and we are happy that we have earned the top seed.’
‘I am very concerned about a match against a team like NC State,’ said Collier, ‘Certainly, we are going to the tournament with a goal of winning the ACC Championship. NC State goes into the match with one goal: to upset the No. 1 seed in what could be their last match of the season. Obviously the motivation of NC State playing in a match like that could drive them to an exceptional performance, and I think our players are going to have to be ready to play a very motivated NC State team.’
‘I think the fact that they pushed us in our match at home last week will create an awareness with our players that NC State has the potential to beat us if we do not play well,’ said Collier. ‘I think our team has a recent memory of NC State playing well against us in O’Keefe Gym, and now we have to play them on a neutral court, so it could be an interesting match.’
Should the Jackets win, they will go on to play the winner of the Florida State/Duke matchup at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals. The finals will be held on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised live on Home Team Sports.
‘Often in a tournament, the four versus five match is one of the most competitive matches in the entire tournament,’ said Collier. ‘I expect that the Duke versus Florida State match will be very competitive and a great match.’
Under Collier, the Jackets have a 9-8 record in the tournament. Only once before has Tech been the number one seed once, and the Jackets went on to win their only conference title, defeating Maryland in 1995.
‘I believe that if we can get to the championship match, we will win the tournament,’ said Collier. ‘I believe that we will have a tough match with NC State, but it is a match that we expect to win. I think if we play the winner of Duke and Florida State it will be a very tough match for us. But, I honestly believe that if we can find a way to make it to the finals, then we will win the championship. We have to get to the championship match and then I believe we will have enough determination and talent to win the title.’
The Jackets continue to be led by all-ACC candidates Kyleen Bell, Kele Eveland, Eida Mabry, and Maja Pachale. Bell and Mabry have each tallied over 400 kills for the Jackets, with Pachale close behind with 369. Defensively, Pachale leads the team in digs with 298, while Bell has notched 107 blocks on the season. The offense has been run all season by Eveland, who has recorded 1,278 assists this season, which is second in the league.