Sept. 4, 2011
By: Jon Cooper
– An outside hitter is expected to hit.
As a freshman, Jennifer Percy showed she could do that, blasting 218 kills (2.15 per set) in being named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.
For her sophomore season, Georgia Tech was looking for more from the 6-2, Mobile, Alabama, native, who, in high school led St. Paul’s Episcopal to three consecutive state championship appearances and a berth in the finals as a senior. Thus far, Percy has delivered, continuing to pound the ball while showing more diversity in the fundamental areas of her game.
“She’s starting to understand the attacking side of it in regards to working the different sides of the ball,” said Head Coach Tonya Johnson. “But I certainly think her passing has gotten better and when she’s picking the right spots she’s a very good blocker.
“That’s what we need her to do,” she added. “We need her to take a big swing or make a big block and she certainly responded to that really well.”
Percy responded at the season-opening Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic, earning All-Tournament honors after totaling 25 kills in the three games, including 10 in the opening four-set win over Kansas State and seven in the come-from-behind, five-set thriller over Louisville.
“There were a couple of games I definitely struggled but I know our coach stresses it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” she said. “I just knew I had to step up my game and hold myself responsible to help this team out.”
She did both again over the past weekend at the Rice Tournament, in Houston, Texas. Percy served out Tech’s lone winning set against UTSA on Friday night, recorded three solo blocks in the sweep of Houston Baptist on Saturday morning then recorded a career-high 13 kills in the final match against host Rice that night.
Through the first two weekends of play, Percy trails only Monique Mead with 45 kills, and hitting percentage (.245), while defensively, she leads the team with three blocked shots and is fourth in total blocks (11.0).
“I’d like to see myself improve as a player on the court, making better shots, spot things quicker,” she said. “I’d like to make All-ACC team. That’s one of my big goals I’m going to be pushing for, but team is first. That’s where I think we’re all focusing right now.”
She said that commitment is team-wide, especially from the players coming off the bench.
“Everyone on the court wants to be an asset to the team. We don’t want to be the weaker rotation,” she said. “Everyone has that fire to want to hold their own on the court and do what they can for the team. We have so much depth at every position. That’s where confidence comes in. People aren’t getting shaky because a new player’s coming in. They have confidence knowing that we can do it.
“This year’s team has a lot more faith in each other and we have that confidence in every single game knowing it’s not over,” she added. “If a team comes out two games and crushes us, we don’t have the look on our face that it’s over and done with. We have that faith inside of us that we can pull ourselves out of it. We’ve been through a lot together. We have that faith and that confidence that we can do anything.”
Sitting at 4-2, the Yellow Jackets will get back into action over the weekend in the Georgia Tech Regency Suites Invitational at O’Keefe Gym. Tech will take on Georgia at 7:00 p.m. on Friday then play a double-header on Saturday, with the first match against Mercer beginning at 12:30 p.m. They’ll conclude with Samford at 7:00.