ATLANTA — After playing a tough non-conference schedule to open its 2000 season, the Georgia Tech volleyball team (9-3) now must turn its attention to conference opponents this weekend. The Jackets will travel to Chapel Hill, NC, to face North Carolina (9-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday in Carmichael Auditorium, and then travel to Raleigh, NC, to take on NC State (5-6) at 5 p.m on Saturday in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Jackets’ three losses this season have come at the hands of ranked opponents, including a recent three-game setback to fourth-ranked Colorado State (11-1). But, head coach Shelton Collier expects those losses will help prepare his team for the upcoming conference schedule.
“Our team has played a very tough non-conference schedule this season in hopes of being prepared for the conference portion of our schedule,” said Collier. “We have had to prepare for high level opponents, and it should help us be prepared for our conference schedule.”
The Jackets and Tar Heels meet for the 31st time this season, with Carolina holding the edge, 20-10. The defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions, Carolina won both meetings against Tech last season.
Against the Wolfpack, Tech holds a 16-11 lead. However, the Jackets dropped two five-game matches against NC State last season.
“There is no question that this is an important weekend for Tech volleyball,” said Collier. “North Carolina is a tough team to face on its home court, and several key players return from last year’s ACC championship team that know how to win, so I expect the match to be very competitive.”
“N C State is a much improved team over the past two years, and gave us a lot of trouble last season,” said Collier. “It is a very enthusiastic team that plays a lot of defense and likes to wear a team down. I expect the same thing from them Saturday night.”
Over the past two weeks, Tech has been led by middle-blocker Kyleen Bell (Rocklin, Calif.) who has been virtually unstoppable on offense. This past week, she recorded 74 kills and hit .427, raising her average nearly 60 points. For her efforts, she was named to the Coors Light Classic all-tournament team last weekend. She currently leads the team in kills with 147 and hitting percentage (.347), as well as blocks per game (.95). Freshman Kele Eveland (Grand Rapids, Mich.) who also earned all-tournament honors last weekend, has been a steady force running the offense. She has tallied 408 assists, averaging 12.00 per game, and the Jackets are hitting .232 as a team.
“We have had various players play very well in different matches this season, and to have success this weekend, it is going to take all of our players playing well,” said Collier.
“Conference wins on the road determine conference champions, and we hope to return to Atlanta with two victories this weekend.”