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No. 11 Jackets Battle Past Cavaliers in Five

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — No. 11 Georgia Tech volleyball (14-2, 5-1 ACC) returned to its winning ways by staving off Virginia (8-8, 1-5 ACC) in five sets (25-11, 21-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13) on Sunday at Memorial Gymnasium. The Yellow Jackets earned the 3-2 triumph after starting the match with their highest set margin of victory of the season in the first set, 25-11.

Senior outside hitter Tamara Otene put in yet another spectacular performance as she became the 13th Yellow Jacket in program history to join the 20/20 double double club with 20 kills and a career-high 20 digs, hitting at a .349 clip while adding three aces. The New Zealand native earned her ninth double double of the season as she spearheaded the White and Gold in both phases.

Junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino joined her with a well-rounded performance of her own, adding 14 kills and 14 digs on top of four blocks for her fifth double double on the year. Freshman right side hitter Larissa Mendes completed the three-headed brace on both ends, pitching in 17 kills and six digs while tying Bertolino for the team lead with four blocks.

Efficient attackers with career days of their own included junior middle blockers DeAndra Pierce and Kali Engeman, who both hit above .500 as Pierce turned in a personal-best 10 kills at a .500 clip while Engeman earned her first collegiate kill, going on to finish with five kills on a team-best .625 hitting percentage.

The offense was primarily run through freshman setter Heloise Soares with a career-high 45 assists. Senior libero Paola Pimentel cleaned up the back end defensively with a team-high 22 digs for her seventh 20+ dig match of the season.

The Yellow Jackets held advantages on paper in most major categories as a unit, leading the way in kills (72-57), hitting percentage (.271-.192), assists (66-52) and digs (82-69).

No. 11 Georgia Tech vs. Virginia

October 8, 2023 (Tyler Rover)

How it Happened

Georgia Tech took over early in set one as Otene fueled a four-point run with a kill and an ace to push the Yellow Jackets in front, 8-3. Another burst of three with a pair of kills from the recently subbed graduate middle blocker Afedo Manyang increased the advantage to 11-4, and the White and Gold continued to roll with another stretch of five for an 18-7 lead. Tech would take another four straight to put the set out of reach at 23-9, closing out the first set soon after, 25-11.

Virginia turned things around in set two as it remained competitive throughout. An early run of three by the Yellow Jackets for a 5-4 lead would be the most either squad could string together as they went back and forth until Tech used a burst of four to take a 19-17 lead. Still, the Cavaliers would continue to fight, rallying late to take the final six points and steal the second set, 25-21.

The White and Gold burst out of the gates in set three, taking five of the first six points and later using a five-point stretch to move further in front, 12-6. The Hoos would once more battle back, drawing within a point at a 17-16 Jacket advantage, but Georgia Tech used a final streak of five to take control of the set, 24-18, before finishing the set on top, 25-21.

The Yellow Jackets were successful early once more starting set four, taking three of the first four points and pressing onto a 7-3 lead. As Virginia found its footing and drew near, the Cavaliers caught fire to string together eight straight, turning the tables for a 15-10 advantage. Tech would respond as the two sides traded blows until the White and Gold put together five straight points to knot the set at 19 all. The Hoos would take five of the next six points to reach set point, and despite the Jackets taking back a pair, Virginia sent the match to five sets with a 25-22 win.

With all sides even, Georgia Tech got going in the final set with a three-point run for a 3-1 lead. The Yellow Jackets would push up to a 5-3 advantage, but the Cavaliers answer with three of their own to move in front, 6-5. From there, the two sides went back and forth until the White and Gold used another streak of three to flip the lead in their favor, 11-10. As Mendes earned six of Tech’s points in the paramount set, the Brazilian added five of the Jackets’ final six as she swung on two kills in succession for a 13-11 advantage before clinching the match with yet another kill, securing a 15-13 fifth set victory and 3-2 match triumph.

Up Next

Georgia Tech will return home for a four-match homestand, beginning with Florida State (12-6, 6-0 ACC) on Friday at 7 p.m. and closing the weekend with Miami (11-5, 4-2 ACC) next Sunday at 1 p.m., both in O’Keefe Gymnasium.

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Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.   

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