By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Current record: 2-1 overall
Last Week: vs. Jacksonville (W, 3-0), vs. Gardner-Webb (W, 3-0), at South Carolina (L, 3-1)
This Week: SMU Invitational 9/5 at SMU, 9/6 vs. Oklahoma and Texas Southern
Coming into a season with a new head coach can be a difficult transition for any program, particularly the first handful of games against competition.
Georgia Tech volleyball got to experience this first hand last week as it opened the 2014 campaign last weekend at the Gamecock Invitational in Columbia, S.C. under the guidance of Michelle Collier.
The Yellow Jackets won their first two games in sweeps over Jacksonville and Gardner-Webb before falling 3-1 to host South Carolina last Sunday.
“I think it went well overall last weekend,” Collier said. “We were able to do some things we needed to get better at as a team such as kills per game, hitting percentage and assists per game. All of those things we were focused on doing better than we’ve done in the past.”
Collier also saw areas of improvement needed after the South Carolina loss, particularly serving and passing.
“We had too many unforced errors,” she said. “We took a lot of reps in practice this week creating a routine for our serving and focusing on the process. We’ve done that in the past and hopefully we’ll be mentally better prepared for it.”
Georgia Tech had a strong effort offensively at the Invitational, led by outside hitter Teegan Van Gunst, who was named to the All-Invitational team after posting a team-high 33 kills over the three contests. Three other Yellow Jackets had at least 25 kills at the event; middle Ashtaan Horton (27), Annika Van Gunst (27) and Courtney Felinski (25). Horton also had a team-high 15 blocks.
“Our offense was balanced and we were able to distribute the ball and not let the opponent key in on one player,” Collier said.
“There were some good things we did offensively and defensively,” Teegan Van Gunst said. “We attack the ball well offensively and our defense is good but our serving and passing are thing we need to continue to get better at and be more consistent.”
The matches also allowed Georgia Tech to experiment with the two main setters on the roster Rebecca Martin and Callie Bivings. “We played a 5-1 lineup with Rebecca in the first two matches but used a 6-2 lineup with her and Callie in the last match,” Collier said. “They made good decisions and hopefully can build on that.”
The opening matches weren’t only the debut contests for Collier. The Yellow Jackets had several true freshmen see their first collegiate action, including middle Sydney Wilson and libero Annika Olsen who had a team-high 40 digs.
“They played great including our returners who didn’t have a significant role in the past,” Collier said. Sydney came into her own in one of the hardest positions to transition into from high school to college while Annika did a great job of passing and defending for us. Its exciting because they’re only going to get better.”
This weekend, Georgia Tech heads to Dallas to play at the SMU Tournament. The Yellow Jackets open with the host Mustangs on Friday before facing nationally-ranked Oklahoma and Texas Southern on Saturday.
“We’ll continue building on consistency and want to get better by not missing serves and digging more balls defensively,” Collier said.
“I had a couple of serving errors that shouldn’t have happened last weekend,” Teegan Van Gunst said. “I’ve worked in practice this week to be more aggressive but keep the ball in. We’re a group of hard working kids that like to get after it everyday.”