THE FLATS – In its first postseason appearance since 2009, Georgia Tech volleyball (18-14) notched its first postseason victory since 2004 in a thrilling, 3-2 comeback over South Florida (20-12) in the opening round of the NIVC, hosted at O’Keefe Gymnasium on Thursday night. After dropping the first two sets, the Yellow Jackets stormed back, taking three in a row to advance to the second round match against College of Charleston on Friday night.
Georgia Tech 3, USF 2
Both teams came out ready to roll but South Florida took the early lead. With freshman Mikaila Dowd totaling five kills in the first half of the set, Tech trailed 15-12 at the media timeout. The Bulls moved their lead to 18-13 and the Jackets called timeout. South Florida stayed ahead, taking the set at 25-19 for the 1-0 lead.
The Bulls carried the momentum into the second set, cruising to a 9-3 lead and Tech called its first timeout of the set. South Florida kept rolling, leading by as many as 10 and the Jackets called their second timeout, trailing 18-8. Tech kept battling but the set remained out of reach and USF took the 2-0 lead at 25-14.
The Jackets weren’t ready for their season to be over yet, tallying three in a row to take the lead at 11-8 in the third set on an ace from freshman Matti McKissock and USF called timeout. The Jackets stayed ahead, extending their lead to 15-10 on a block from junior Kodie Comby and sophomore Kendall Wilson. The Yellow Jackets made it a seven-point lead at 17-10 but the Bulls brought the set back within four at 17-13 and Tech called timeout. Comby tallied a kill coming out of the timeout to get the Jackets back on track and an attack error caused South Florida to call timeout with the score at 19-13. Tech kept at it, taking set point at 24-16 on a kill from Dowd but the Bulls weren’t to be counted out, scoring five before Dowd closed out the set at 25-21.
Tech continued its hot streak in the fourth set, freshman Mariana Brambilla recording five kills to put Tech ahead 11-6 and USF called timeout. The White and Gold didn’t let up, moving the tally to 15-7 on a kill from freshman Kayla Kaiser and South Florida used its second timeout of the set. The Jackets held onto their lead, reaching set point at 24-16 on a kill from Kaiser. South Florida managed to sneak in one more point before Dowd once again scored the winning point at 25-17 to force a fifth set.
The fifth set was the closest of the match. With the score knotted at 5-5, Brambilla tallied back-to-back kills to put Tech ahead by two at 7-5. Brambilla recorded her 21st kill of the match, a career high for the freshman, to give Tech the lead at 8-6 at the switch. The White and Gold moved its lead to five at 12-7 on back-to-back kills from Dowd. At that point the set belonged to the Jackets, reaching set point at 14-9 on a kill from sophomore Kendall Wilson. Brambilla sent her 22nd kill off the block to secure the comeback victory for the Jackets at 15-9.
The Jackets take on College of Charleston in the second round of the tournament on Friday, Nov. 30 in O’Keefe Gymnasium. First serve is set for 7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.
- The Jacket notched their first postseason win since 2004 when the Jackets advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
- Mariana Brambilla recorded her 16th double-double of the season with 22 kills and 16 digs.
- Brambilla’s 22 kills are a career high for the freshman.
- Matti McKissock recorded her ninth double-double with 29 digs and 13 assists.
- Lexi Dorn recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 19 assists and 10 digs.