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Jackets Topple Florida, Advance to Regional Semifinals

GAINESVILLE, FLA. – No. 5 seed Georgia Tech volleyball (24-6, 13-4 ACC) took down No. 4 seed Florida (19-10, 10-8 SEC) to advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the fourth time in program history. The Jackets overcame multiple fifth-set deficits to defeat the Gators, on their home court (22-25, 30-28, 25-21, 18-25, 16-14) inside Exactech Arena.

“Super excited for our players, for our staff,” head coach Michelle Collier said. “Obviously, this is something that you pencil in at the beginning of the season and you hope that you get to, and these guys worked their butts off. Played a great team, a really tough environment, and were able to stay resilient and just keep playing and come up with the win. Super proud of them. Excited I get to keep them in the gym for a little longer and we’ll see what’s next.”

QUICK HITS

  • Georgia Tech has advanced to the Regional rounds for the fourth time in program history – also 2021, 2004 and 2003.
  • The Jackets improve to 16-12 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches and 7-3 in the Michelle Collier era.
  • With this win, Michelle Collier now owns the most NCAA Tournament wins by any coach in Georgia Tech volleyball history, surpassing Bond Shymansky’s total of six wins from 2002-08.
  • This was the first true-road win in an NCAA Tournament match in program history, snapping a streak of three-straight road losses, including at Louisville (2021) and at Marquette (2022).
  • The Jackets have now won 11 road matches this season, the most in the Michelle Collier era and the most in a single season since 2004.
  • This was the first 5-set NCAA Tournament win in program history.
  • Tech won the match after dropping the opening set, improving to 5-3 this season after falling behind, 0-1.
  • 72 kills are the most Georgia Tech has every made in an NCAA Tournament match in the modern scoring era.
  • Senior outside hitter Tamara Otene recorded 21 kills, becoming the third Jacket in the modern scoring era to achieve 20 kills in an NCAA Tournament match (also Marianna Brambilla and Julia Bergmann).
  • Junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino recorded a double-double with 18 kills and 17 digs while hitting .341. It was the 25th double-double of her career.
  • Senior opposite Afedo Manyang recorded season bests in kills (10) and blocks (4) tonight, hitting .438 in the win. She has hit .400 or better in four straight matches.
  • Senior Paola Pimentel made 16 digs, a new NCAA Tournament career-best, along with a career high 10 assists – her first career double-double.
  • Freshman setter Heloise Soares led the team with 32 assists with senior Bella D’Amico adding in 23.

Set By Set

Set 1 (UF, 25-22): Both sides worked out some nerves early in the opening set as eight of the first 15 points in the match were won via errors. Tech needed a 6-1 scoring run to get control of the momentum, 10-8, growing the lead to as many as four, 19-15, before a GT service error started the Gators went on a 4-0 run to tie things back at 19 apiece. Both teams traded points until another poorly timed service error from the Jackets began what would be a set clinching 3-0 run for UF.

Set 2 (GT, 30-28): After falling behind, 17-14, the Jackets went on a 3-0 run, tying the match at 17-17, thanks to some great serving from Otene. Florida took another late lead, 22-20, only for the Jackets to fight back, earning a set point at 24-23. It would be the first of six set points the Jackets would earn until, at long last, an attack error from the Gators gave the Jackets the set. Tech’s offense found its groove, hitting at a high clip throughout the set, thanks in large part to the heroics of Bertolino. The Argentinian totaled eight kills on .500 hitting in the critical set, earning momentum for the Jackets that would carry well into the start of the third.

Set 3 (GT, 25-21): With the momentum on their side, the Jackets jumped in front, 9-1, to start the third set. Florida would cut the lead to as few as two points, 23-21, but kills from Bertolino and Otene sealed the deal for Tech, putting the Jackets up two sets to one. Otene led the offense with seven kills on .462 hitting. Pimentel was phenomenal in the set, making nine digs to lead the defense.

Set 4 (UF, 25-18): Florida bounced back in the fourth, jumping in front, 6-1, and never looking back, winning the set by seven points.

Set 5 (GT, 16-14): The Gators took an 8-4 lead to start the fifth. With their backs against the wall, the Jackets responded, winning the next three points to cut the deficit to one. The Jackets battled to try and tie the score, trading points with the Gators, until a 3-0 scoring run thanks to the serving of Lauren Sanden gave Tech a match point, 14-13. After the Gators tied it at 14-14, Otene delivered a rocket of a swing, powering home her 20th kill of the night, before Bertolino finished the job one point later, sending Georgia Tech to the Regional Semifinals for the fourth time in program history.

UP NEXT
Georgia Tech will await their next destination in the NCAA Regional semifinals. Should all seeded teams advance, the Jackets will travel to Lincoln, Neb, to take on No. 1 overall seeded Nebraska. Should Nebraska be upset, the Jackets will travel to the highest seeded team remaining on their side of the bracket.

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.

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