Oct. 2, 2003
After opening the conference season with two road wins, the fifth-ranked Georgia Tech volleyball team (13-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) returns to the cozy confines of O’Keefe Gymnasium to host three matches, including two ACC matches and a match against cross-town rival Georgia State. Tech hosts Maryland (13-3, 2-0 ACC) Friday at 7 p.m. while the Panthers (17-3) will visit Saturday at 1 p.m. followed by a match at 7 p.m. against Virginia (17-1, 1-1 ACC).
“It’s great to play at home and we’re coming back to O’Keefe Gym at a great time,” said head coach Bond Shymansky. “It’s homecoming week and there’s a lot of excitement on campus. As a team, they are doing a great job of keeping themselves motivated during practice and in matches, which is very good to see.”
Friday’s match marks the 36th time that the Jackets have faced the Terrapins, with Maryland holding the series’ edge 20-15. Tech swept both matches from the Terrapins last year and has not lost to Maryland since the ACC Tournament in 2001. In addition, the last time Maryland defeated the Jackets in O’Keefe was during the 1997 season.
“Maryland is a very physical team this year, especially in the area of blocking,” said Shymansky. “They are getting a lot of offensive contributions from all five of their hitters and that diversity will be tough for us to handle. In addition, their coach is very smart and she does a great job of keeping her team motivated and finding ways to win. They will be a tough match for us Friday night.”
On Saturday, Tech will begin the day by facing cross-town rival Georgia State. The Panthers and the Jackets have met 31 times with Tech holding the edge, 28-3. The last time Georgia State defeated Tech was during the 1998 season.
“Certainly it is going to be tough to turn around and play so soon after our match Friday night,” said Shymansky. “But, it’s a challenge that every team faces at the end of the season, whether it’s the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament. Our challenge will be to sustain the type of physical output and mental focus needed to then turn around and play even better the next day. Georgia State has presented problems to Georgia Tech in the past and we’ve got to make sure that we stay focused and play well.”
Later on Saturday, the Jackets will return to action against the Cavaliers. Tech enters the match with a 17-14 edge in the series and have won the last four meetings. The last time Virginia defeated Tech was during the 2000 season.
“Virginia has very good senior leadership and have changed their offensive system this year which has given them more fire power to their offense,” said Shymansky. “Their setters are doing a good job of spreading the ball around and they are getting good defensive support, too. They have a group of kids that has a lot of confidence about what they can do this year and they are finally looking at teams across the net that are younger than them and they are taking advantage of that.”
“This should be a fun weekend,” said Shymansky. “We are excited to be back home and playing in front of our home crowd.”