Dec. 2, 2009
| NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND|
Baylor (22-9) vs. Georgia Tech (21-9)
Dec. 4, 2009 | 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET
Los Angeles, Calif. | Pauley Pavilion (4,500)
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Yellow Jackets Return To NCAA Tournament
For the first time since 2004, the Georgia Tech Volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 3 seed in the Los Angeles sub-regional and will face No. 2 Baylor (22-9) in the first round on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. No. 8 national seed UCLA (23-8) and Long Beach State (22-8) will play the other first round match at Pauley Pavilion at 11:00 p.m. ET.
The two winners from Friday night will then square off Saturday at 10 p.m. ET with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
The winner of the Los Angeles sub-regional will face the winner of the Columbus, Ohio sub-regional in Gainesville, Fla. next weekend. Ohio State, No. 9 California, Lipscomb and Cincinnati are in that sub-regional.
Free live video and stats will be available for all three matches this weekend. Visit the tournament central link on www.RamlinWreck.com for links.
Under first-year head coach Tonya Johnson, Georgia Tech compiled a 21-9 overall record and went 15-5 in ACC play to finish third. Tech earned one of four at-large bids from the ACC joining Duke, Clemson and Miami. Regular season champion Florida State, which earned a No. 3 national seed, gave the league a record five teams in this year’s field.
It’s Been A While
The Jackets are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004, but have had some success in eight prior trips. Tech is 9-8 (.529) all-time in the NCAA Tournament (see box on left for complete results) and has won at least one match all but two times. Georgia Tech has advanced to the Sweet 16 twice (2004) as well as the Elite Eight in its last appearance back in 2004.
Scouting The Field
The Yellow Jackets have a very limited history against the other three teams in L.A. Tech has never faced Baylor and is 0-2 against both UCLA and Long Beach State.
The last time the Yellow Jackets faced UCLA, the third-ranked Bruins beat them in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament, also in L.A.
The Jackets’ last match against Long Beach State was a five-set loss on Nov. 28, 2003 in the Baden Thanksgiving Tournament.
Baylor (22-9) earned an at-large bid out of the Big 12 Conference after finishing tied for fourth in league play with an 11-9 mark. The Bears will be playing in the tournament for the first time since 2001 and just the third time in program history with the only other appearance in 1999. Baylor is 1-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 8 national seed UCLA finished the regular season with a 23-8 overall record and in a tie for second in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 13-5 mark.
Long Beach State, champions of the Big West Conference, were 22-8 overall and 12-4 in league play.
Hunter Enjoying Break-Out Season
Under new head coach Tonya Johnson, sophomore Bailey Hunter has gotten a chance to start every match and is certainly making the most out of it. The Hendersonville, N.C., native averaged just 1.82 kills per set last season but has broken out with 3.29 a set this year. That mark leads the team and is sixth in the ACC.
At one point this season, Hunter had a string of 19 straight matches with at least 10 kills.
In Georgia Tech’s regular season finale at Clemson (Nov. 27), Hunter recorded her first career double-double. She posted career-highs of 20 kills and 11 digs helping the Jackets to a five-set win on the road.
Hunter is hitting .235 on the season and also averages 0.78 digs per set and 0.30 blocks per set.
Coming into this season, Hunter’s career-high for kills was 13. In 2009, she has topped that on 14 different occasions.
Mead Makes Bid For ACC Freshman Of The Year
Freshman Monique Mead has lived up to the hype surrounding her coming out of high school. Tabbed the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year for Georgia and a second-team high school All-American, the Newnan, Ga., native began her career in style. Playing in front of a sell-out crowd at O’Keefe Gym against in-state rival Georgia, Mead recorded a double-double with 20 kills and 10 digs as the Jackets knocked off the Bulldogs in five sets.
Mead also posted a double-double the next day against Austin Peay (11 kills, 10 digs) en route to ACC Player of the Week honors.
Mead is second on the team and seventh in the ACC averaging 3.04 kills per set this year. She has reached double-figures in 21 of Tech’s 30 matches. Mead has tallied at least 15 kills in five matches, including a career-high 21 against Miami on Nov. 13.
Mead is also averaging 1.94 digs per set and 0.77 blocks.
Mash Is Dishing It Out
Junior Mary Ashley Tippins is another one of several Yellow Jackets taking advantage of increased playing time. “Mash” is starting every match for the first time in her career and has led the Tech offense to some impressive numbers.
The setter from Atlanta is first in the ACC and 18th nationally dishing out 11.28 assists per set.
Despite playing in just 40 matches over her first two seasons, Tippins ranks sixth in Tech history averaging 10.25 assists per set and is eighth with 2,302 career helpers.
Tippins recorded her first career double-double Oct. 4 at Miami with 60 assists and 10 digs and now has four in the last two months.
Tippins is sixth in the ACC with 0.32 service aces per set and is chipping in with 1.92 digs per set as well.
Stawicka Is A Blocking Machine
Sophomore Asia Stawicka has been doing it for the Jackets both offensively and defensively this season. She ranks seventh in the ACC with a .330 hitting percentage and is also fifth with a team-high 1.08 blocks per set.
The Warsaw, Poland native has 122 total blocks this season, including a career-high 10 against Mississippi Sept. 12 which is tied for the fifth-most in the ACC this season.
Stawicka ranks eighth in Tech history with 1.08 blocks per set.
Seniors Get Back To Tourney
On a team which features nine underclassmen, seniors Chrissy DeMichelis and Brittany Roderick get to end their Tech careers in style with what they hope is a long run in the NCAA Tournament.
DeMichelis and Roderick have led this young team which features seven freshmen and the results are evident on the floor.
DeMichelis is 10th in school history in kills per set (3.06) and also sixth in solo blocks (74). This season, the Aurora, Colo. native is 10th in the ACC in kills (2.94) and third on the team in total blocks (63) while registering at least 10 kills in all but six matches. She has over 1,000 kills in her career and set the Tech single-match record with six solo blocks against Virginia Tech in 2007.
Roderick, meanwhile, broke out for a career-high in kills this season (2.08) and is averaging nearly two per set over the last two years for the Yellow Jackets. The Orlando, Fla., native has registered 16 matches of 10 or more kills over the past two years while playing in every set. In her senior year, she ranks ninth in the ACC in hitting percentage (.323) and is among the team leaders in blocks (62).
Getting It Done At O’Keefe
With a 13-3 record at home this season, the Yellow Jackets have posted a stellar 170-48 (.780) record at O’Keefe Gymnasium since the volleyball team began playing matches there in 1995.
Georgia Tech has won at least 10 matches at O’Keefe Gym in each of the last eight seasons and is consistently among the nation’s leaders in attendance.
Tech’s success at home is partially due to the remarkable crowd support that the Yellow Jackets receive each and every match.
The Yellow Jacket’s 2009 season opening win over Georgia was played in front of the third-ever sell-out crowd (2,000) at O’Keefe.
Johnson Proving The Projections Wrong
With a new coach and just six returning players, Georgia Tech was picked to finish eighth in the ACC preseason poll and had just one preseason All-ACC selection.
All first-year head coach Tonya Johnson has done is prove them wrong. Johnson, a former assistant coach at national powers Texas and LSU, quickly won the Tech fans over by beating in-state rival Georgia in her first career match. In her first season, she has led the Jackets to a third-place finish in the ACC, 21 wins and the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Jackets Deny Seminoles Perfect Season
The 2004 and 2009 Tech teams have more in common than just the last two NCAA Tournament teams in school history. The 2004 Yellow Jackets were the last ACC team to go undefeated in conference play (16-0) and if not for the 2009 Jackets, Florida State would have accomplished the feat this season.
Tech upset then-No. 17 Florida State 3-2 on Oct. 2 in Tallahassee and that would be the Seminole’s only loss in ACC play. In fact, it was one of only two losses all year for Florida State, the No. 3 national seed in this year’s field of 64. FSU’s only other loss came at the hands of then-No. 5 Florida 3-2 in Gainesville.
The win for the Yellow Jackets in Tallahassee was the program’s first win against a ranked opponent on the road since upsetting No. 5 Nebraska 3-2 on Sept. 14, 2003.
All three of Tech’s set wins that October night came in extra points as it battled from behind for most of the match.
Tech Picks Up Two Tournament Wins
Georgia Tech won each of its home tournaments this season, the 12th time in history it has won at least two regular season tourney’s.
The Jackets beat Georgia, Austin Peay and Mercer to win the season-opening Regency Suites Invitational (Aug. 28-29) and then knocked off Clemson, Southeast Missouri and Ole Miss en route to the Courtyard by Marriott Classic (Sept. 11-12) title a couple of weeks later.