Nov. 7, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Chrissy DeMichelis pounded out 19 kills while Callie Miller and Talisa Kellogg added 16 apiece to lead Georgia Tech (18-6, 10-4) back from an 0-2 deficit to win a 3-2 (24-26, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-12) thriller at Wake Forest (16-10, 7-7 ACC) Friday night at Reynolds Gym.
The Jackets were forced to rally in each of the final three sets to hand the Demon Deacons just their second home loss of the season after they entered the match with a 12-1 record at Reynolds Gym in 2008.
“Both teams started off hot offensively, but we just couldn’t seem to turn the momentum until the very end of game three,” said Georgia Tech head coach Bond Shymansky. “That was just enough to point us in the right direction.”
An early 5-0 run gave the Jackets an 8-4 lead in the third set, and, despite 14 ties and four lead changes, Tech held on for the 25-23 win to stay alive after dropping the first two frames, 24-26 and 21-25. The Jackets fell behind 13-10 in the fourth set but scored nine unanswered points before cruising to a 25-19 victory to tie the match at 2-2. Tech then completed its comeback by closing out the match on a 9-3 run after falling behind early in the final set.
“We finally contained Natalie Mullikin late in the match, but had our hands full with their multi-faceted attack,” Shymansky said.
Wake’s preseason all-conference middle hit .429 with seven kills through the first two sets, but Tech’s defensive play limited Mullikin to a .000 hitting percentage (eight kills, eight errors) through the final three frames, forcing the Deacs to look elsewhere for offense.
The Jackets, meanwhile, had a balanced offensive attack run by setter Allie Niekamp, who posted her sixth double-double of the season with 62 assists and 10 digs against the Deacs. Joining DeMichelis, Miller and Kellogg in double figures was Brittany Roderick, who tallied 11 kills while hitting a team-best .348 on the night.
“Our seniors came up big because they know that every point in every match from here on out will have a bearing on the ACC title,” Shymansky added. “Callie was nearly unstoppable and continues to show why she is the most dynamic middle in the conference, but the play of our two outside hitters was what gave us the final push that we needed to wear down Wake’s block and defense.”
Miller led all players with five block assists on the evening, while Tech’s back row posted 72 digs against Wake Forest, led by a 20-dig performance from libero Michelle Kandell. Joining Kandell and Niekamp in double-figures on the back row were Jordan McCullers (15 digs) and Alison Campbell (14).
Tech opened the match by taking a 16-11 lead, but the five-point edge was short-lived as the Deacs tied the set at 20-20. A kill and service ace by Kellogg helped the Jackets take a two-point lead at 23-21, but Wake Forest closed out the opening set on a 5-1 run to win, 26-24. Lauren Mcintyre was responsible for three of Wake’s five points during that run and finished the set with five kills on five swings.
After falling behind early in the second set, the Jackets attempted a late rally, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Deacs from taking a 2-0 lead in the match. Wake Forest benefitted from six Yellow Jacket errors to win seven of the first 10 points in the set and then extended its lead to six points at 11-5. Trailing 20-15, Tech slowly began its comeback and eventually pulled within two points on a kill by DeMichelis to make the score 23-21, but Wake received a kill from Kadija Fornah and another off a dig by Megan Thornberry to win, 25-21.
After Wake Forest tied the third set for the 14th time on a kill by Fornah, DeMichelis delivered her sixth kill of the frame for the one point lead at 24-23 and then sent another attack down the line for the deciding point of the set.
Seven of the Jackets’ nine points scored during the 9-0 run in the fourth set came off Demon Deacon errors, and the Jackets turned to DeMichelis to carry the Jackets the rest of the way, as the outside hitter scored four of Tech’s final six points off kills.
Wake Forest held an 8-6 lead on the changeover in the final set, and went ahead 9-6 on an attacking error by the Jackets, but Tech used a 5-0 run to take control of the set and, ultimately, the match. A kill by Bailey Hunter started the comeback, and blocks by Hunter and Miller and a service ace from Brittany Roderick sparked the rally. The Deacs would score three of the next four points to tie the set at 12-12, but back-to-back kills from Kellogg gave the Jackets a 14-12 edge and an attacking error by Mullikin sealed the victory.
The Yellow Jackets continue on to Durham, where they will face Duke Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils hosted league-leader Clemson Friday night, defeating the Tigers, 3-1, giving Duke, Tech, Clemson, and North Carolina a four-way tie for the top spot in the league standings. Live stats for Saturday’s match at Duke will be available at Ramblinwreck.com.