GAINESVILLE, FLA. – No. 5 seed Georgia Tech volleyball (23-6, 13-4 ACC) powered past South Alabama (22-9, 12-4 SBC) on Thursday evening from inside Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Jackets used a balanced attack and strong team defense to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
“Super excited about the opportunity to continue to play,” head coach Michelle Collier said. “We know how hard it is to get to this point and to win matches at this point, so definitely very proud of our team just pulling out the win. I want to congratulate South Alabama. They’re a great team. They’ve been doing a great job all season. They definitely earned it to be here. Again, we got to now watch the next match and get ready for the next one.”
- Georgia Tech has now won at least one NCAA Tournament match in four straight seasons for the first time in program history (2020-2023).
- The Jackets improve to 15-12 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches and 6-3 in the Michelle Collier era.
- Junior middle blocker DeAndra Pierce set a new career high with 11 kills. She did so on .667 hitting, the highest hitting percentage by a Jacket in an NCAA Tournament match lasting longer than three sets (modern scoring era).
- Freshman setter Heloise Soares set a career high with three aces in her NCAA Tournament debut. That total ties Bianca Bertolino (12/4/21) for the most aces by a Jacket in an NCAA Tournament match in the modern scoring era.
- Freshman opposite Larissa Mendes recorded 12 kills on .458 hitting, the most kills by a Georgia Tech freshman in her NCAA Tournament debut in program history.
- Senior outside hitter Tamara Otene recorded a double-double (15 kills, 13 digs). It was her 15th of the season, 23rd of her career and her 1st in an NCAA Tournament match. Both her kill and dig totals were career highs for an NCAA Tournament match.
- Senior libero Paola Pimentel led the team with 15 digs – a new career best for digs in an NCAA Tournament match.
- The Jackets made six aces today, tying the program modern scoring era record for aces in an NCAA Tournament match.
- Junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino made 13 digs. She has now recorded double digit digs in four of her last five NCAA Tournament matches, dating back to 2021.
- Senior setter Bella D’Amico recorded her 2000th career assists today, finishing with 18 to push her career total to 2,007.
Set By Set
Set 1 (GT, 25-19): The Jackets set the tone early on, taking a 6-1 lead after activating Pierce for a pair of kills on her first two swings up the middle. The Jaguars fought back, getting within one point (16-15) but a pair of kills from Otene sent the Jackets on a 4-0 run to re-establish a five-point lead. Mendes finished off the set with a kill as the Jackets showcased their balanced attack and strong defense to earn the six-point set victory. Six different Jackets registered kills in the set, Pierce led the way with four along with three apiece from Bertolino, Otene and Afedo Manyang. Pimentel led the defense with five digs, while also securing an ace.
Set 2 (USA, 25-22): The Jackets maintained control of the match for a majority of the second set, leading by as much as five points late (18-13). But the Tech defense suffered some uncharacteristic struggles as the Jaguars hit at a very high percentage, coming back to take the set by three points.
Set 3 (GT, 25-15): Tech solved its defensive woes in the third, making 27 digs while working hard in transition to earn points. The set was too close to call early on, 12-10, until a 3-0 scoring run off the serve of Pimentel gave the Jackets some breathing room. Tech held onto that five-point advantage until ending the set on another 5-0 run, this time thanks to the serving of D’Amico, taking the set by 10 points. Defense and Mendes headlined the set for Tech as four different Jackets registered at least five digs, and Mendes rattled off seven kills on .545 hitting. Otene led the back row with seven digs, along with six each from Bertolino and Pimentel. D’Amico was the fourth, posting five digs along with eight assists in the frame.
Set 4 (GT, 25-12): The Jackets left no doubt in the fourth set, making an early 9-1 scoring run to take an early lead they would never relinquish. Soares was all over the court, making seven assists and seven digs in the set, all while securing her career-best third service ace of the match. The Tech block took over as Pierce, Otene and Manyang accrued five blocks combined. Otene led the offense with four kills on .500 hitting as the Jackets comfortably advanced.
Georgia Tech will take on No. 4 seed Florida in the 2nd Round, tomorrow at 7 p.m. from Gainesville, Fla. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+
Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2
Looking to build on the success of last year’s Competitive Drive Initiative, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Tech Foundation and Georgia Tech athletics are partnering once again to launch Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2. CDI Turn 2 has a goal of raising $2.5 million in new gifts to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund’s Athletic Scholarship Fund by Dec. 31, and Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Foundation will match eligible gifts to accelerate the impact for Tech athletics. Like last year, not only will gifts to CDI Turn 2 be matched, but so will the contributor’s benefits in the way of A-T Fund giving levels and priority points. To learn more and contribute online, visit atfund.org/turn2.