The Good Word | by Jon Cooper
On Oct. 6, 1983, Mary Ann Ingram coached Georgia Tech to victory over Mercer, earning the first D-I win in program history. Coach Ingram had to wait two weeks and 11 matches to notch the milestone victory.
Tonight, Michelle Collier plans to coach Georgia Tech to victory over Lipscomb for the program’s 700th D-I win in the opener of the Hyatt Regency Invitational (The match begins at 7 p.m. at O’Keefe Gym). Coach Collier hopes to only have to have waited two days and one match to get the momentous win — although, coming off the program’s first loss of the season, 3-1, on Tuesday night at Kennesaw State, that wait probably seems like two weeks and 10 matches.
The 2019 season may be in its infancy, but this win would be a big deal historically.
“Georgia Tech has been such a phenomenal program. Getting the 700th win is going to be great,” said Collier, who has been at the helm since 2014. “It’s a huge statement to how seriously they take volleyball on this campus and the things that we’re doing. It feels good to be at a place that views the sport as a high-level sport, that we are working hard to get back where it once was.”
The Jackets (3-1), are looking back to get to where they were last Saturday, when they polished off UNC Asheville, 3-0, to finish off the Georgia Tech Invitational, during which they dropped one set in three matches.
“We basically know our goal is to keep getting better,” said Collier. “I think it’s capitalizing on being home, taking advantage of the energy of our environment, and being able to play our game, being able to distribute our offense and just kind of have confidence in the things that we can do.”
Freshman outside hitter Julia Bergmann personified that confidence last weekend, earning Invitational MVP honors after chalking up two double-doubles, while racking up 44 kills, with 37 digs and eight service aces. She also was solid at Kennesaw, blasting 17 kills.
“She’s very comfortable out there,” said Collier. “She’s starting to develop a little more confidence with our setter and they’re kind of figuring out what balls work best for her and kind of getting on the same page. She’s doing a good job of serving and passing. There are some areas of her game that need improvement but she’s definitely a step ahead of a lot of freshmen.”
Sophomore setter Matti McKissock (115 assists, 21 digs last weekend) and senior middle blocker Kodie Comby (21 kills, six digs, five total blocks, three assists) also earned all-tournament honors in the Georgia Tech Invitational.
Collier likes the progress she’s seeing from McKissock, who put up 38 assists and two block assists at Kennesaw.
“Matti has been doing a great job for us just understanding our hitters, understanding situations, what she wants to do at certain times,” she said. “The goal is for her to continue to gain experience and kind of be the leader on the court and get the most out of her hitters. I think she’s doing a good job of learning and executing those things. Every day she’s getting better.”
Collier expects to see the same from the entire squad against both the Bisons (0-3) of the Atlantic Sun Conference, who Tech beat in the schools’ only meeting on Sept. 12, 2014 on the road in Collier’s first season, and the IUPUI Jaguars (1-2) of the Horizon, who the Jackets have never faced.
“We learned a lot (Tuesday) night from that match that we need to continue to work on,” said Collier. “I thought Kennesaw just played a better overall game than we did. They hit really well. I don’t think defensively we did some of the things that we were able to do in our previous matches. We didn’t serve them aggressively enough so they were in system. They were tough and it wasn’t our best night. That’s pretty much it.
“I felt like we served better in the first set,” she added. “We were able to, with our serve, kind of minimized their offense. We should have just kept our pressure on them with our serve. Their defensive players did a good job adjusting.”
Injuries have taken a bite out of the Jackets roster, including shelving outside hitter Mariana Brambilla, who will likely sit this weekend, but Collier won’t use that as an excuse.
“That’s part of it,” she said. “We know that it’s a long season. That’s just kind of how the ball bounces. Better teams are the ones that come out of it on top despite the challenges. Everybody’s going to be going through that at some point in the season. We’re lucky we have a deep enough roster that it’s going to keep us playing at a high level.”
Collier feels her team will play at its usual high level for the next two days — Tech plays the Jaguars on Friday at 7 to complete the tournament — now that they’re back at O’Keefe and, being fueled by the home fans, hopefully bringing home that momentous 700th win.
She believes it’s only fitting to celebrate such a huge win in front of the Georgia Tech faithful.
“For sure. It would be very special to get No. 700 at O’Keefe,” she said. “I think this place is one of the best atmospheres in college athletics. It’s so unique for our players to be able to be a part of that. To have an environment that is so electrifying and exciting as O’Keefe. I think it deserves the 700th win. So hopefully we’ll make it happen.”
Hundreds of Wins
|Win No.||Date||Opponent (Score)||Coach|
|No. 100:||Oct. 19, 1991||Lake Erie (3-2)||Shelton Collier|
|No. 200:||Sept. 17, 1995||Boston College (3-0)||Shelton Collier|
|No. 300:||Sept. 17, 1999||Air Force (3-0)||Shelton Collier|
|No. 400:||Oct. 4, 2003||Georgia State (3-0)||Bond Shymansky|
|No. 500:||Nov. 4, 2007||at Virginia (3-2)||Bond Shymansky|
|No. 600:||Aug. 30, 2013||UT Chattanooga (3-0)||Tonya Johnson|