Georgia ‘Volley Dawgs’ make history with NCAA Tournament victory

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

Credit: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

The Georgia Bulldogs’ volleyball team hope they are far from done, but they made history Thursday night in Austin, Texas.

Coach Tom Black’s “Volley Dawgs” took down No. 8-seed Towson in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Gregory Gymnasium on the University of Texas campus. Georgia jumped on the Tigers with a 25-10 win in the opening set, then held on two take two of the next three, 25-23 and 25-20 in the deciding match.

It was Georgia’s first victory in an NCAA Tournament match since 1995. The Bulldogs (23-7) now move on to face the top-seeded Longhorns in Round 2 at 9 p.m. Friday. Towson’s season ends at 29-1.

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“Obviously, we started out pretty much on fire in the first set, then they pushed back, which good teams are going to do, and I was proud of how the team found a way to respond,” said Black, who’s in his sixth season at the helm of the Bulldogs’ program. “We had some tough serving runs, and we were able to start converting in transition a little bit. It was a new situation for our team, too. We made the tournament three years ago, but it was the first time in a while that we’ve been able to go to the second round. I expected some nerves, but again, I thought the team fought through that like they have been all year long. I’m really proud to coach this team.”

The Bulldogs got 26 kills from All-SEC senior Kacie Evans on a .380 hitting clip. It was her second-highest kill total of the season. She also recorded eight digs, an ace, and blocks blocks in the match.

Junior Sophie Fischer added 12 kills on a .455 percentage with eight blocks. Libero Bailey Cox led the defense with 15 digs. At the service line, Georgia put down six aces in the match, three coming from setter Alexa Fortin.

Now the challenge ramps up even more for the Bulldogs. Next up are Longhorns, a perennial powerhouse in women’s volleyball. The nation’s top-ranked team improved to 23-1 by rolling over Fairleigh Dickinson later Thursday night.

Texas has won three national championships in the sport, been ranked in the top 10 each of the past 16 seasons and made the NCAA regional finals 15 times and the championship match five times, most recently in 2020.

The Bulldogs’ game plan?

“Just playing Georgia volleyball,” Black said.

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