ATLANTA (Nov. 18) — Having completed an injury-riddled regular season, Georgia Tech’s volleyball team heads to this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament looking to turn things around.
The sixth-seeded Jackets, (16-13, 6-10 ACC) will face third-seeded Wake Forest (24-8, 10-6 ACC) on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the opening round of play at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Tech will try to turn the tables on the Demon Deacons, who knocked off the Jackets on Saturday night in Atlanta in three games, 15-11, 15-10, 15-12. However, the Jackets and Deacons split the season series, as Tech captured the first meeting in Winston-Salem back in September.
“We’re very disappointed to have lost our final two home matches (against Duke and Wake Forest this past weekend),” said head coach Shelton Collier. “We really didn’t finish the regular season in rewarding fashion.”
After opening the season with a 12-3 mark, the Jackets have been decimated by injuries, and struggled through the final six weeks of the season. Tech lost two of its three seniors, setter Carolyn Clevenger (Oakland, Calif.) to a stress fracture in her foot, and outside hitter Sara McKee (Highland Village, Tex.) to an injured right shoulder.
“It was really demoralizing to lose our top two seniors,” said Collier.
The Jackets have also lost outside hitter Laura Grubka (Battle Creek, Mich.) due to injury, and have only nine healthy players on the roster. “We don’t have a full roster, so it’s gonna take our best effort in the ACC Tournament,” said Collier. “Our players have to show a lot of determination.”
Despite the rash of injuries the Jackets have endured, sophomore outside hitter Maja Pachale (Schwerin, Germany) continues to shine, as she leads the Jackets’ attack, averaging 4.68 kills/game.
“The tournament’s a way to regain some credibility,” said Collier. “It’s an opportunity for us to really do something positive.”
A year ago, Tech entered the ACC Tournament as the No. 5 seed, falling to Clemson in five games in the quarterfinals. This year’s No. 6 seeding is the lowest that the Jackets have been since before Shelton Collier took over on the Flats in 1991.
“I don’t think we’re labeled as a factor (in the tournament),” said Collier. “We’ve got a lot of opportunity to put a lot of energy into our quarterfinal match on Friday against Wake Forest. It’s unfamililar territory for us to be in the lower half of the bracket, but we’ve seen teams climb out of it before, and we’ll try to duplicate that.”