With 2 matches left, Georgia Tech has shot at ACC volleyball title

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

The Georgia Tech volleyball team enters the final weekend of the regular season with a chance at its first ACC championship since 2002.

The Yellow Jackets, ranked 23rd nationally, will face No. 22 Notre Dame Thursday and Duke Saturday at O’Keefe Gymnasium. Tech is in second place in the conference at 12-3, behind No. 13 Louisville at 11-2 and just ahead of Notre Dame at 11-3. While perhaps not the most probable outcome, Tech’s path to its third ACC title in school history is fairly simple.

Most likely, the Jackets need to sweep the Fighting Irish and the Blue Devils to finish at 14-3 and then have Louisville split against Miami and North Carolina for a 12-3 mark. That scenario, with Tech having beaten Notre Dame, would enable the Jackets to claim first place and earn the ACC title. (Volleyball’s champion is determined by regular-season finish.) There are other combinations through which Tech can finish first, but would require Louisville to lose twice, which appears highly unlikely.

An ACC title would be a triumph for Tech and Collier, now in her seventh season. Collier was hired in 2014 to replace Tonya Johnson, taking over a team that finished 12-20 in 2013. As recently as 2018, Tech finished 10th in the ACC before a breakthrough year in 2019 when Tech rose to second and narrowly missed earning an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament before winning five consecutive matches for the NIVC title.

That team placed four players on the All-ACC first team, including freshman of the year Julia Bergmann and setter of the year Matti McKissock. Collier was named the league’s coach of the year. The 2020-21 team, playing a modified season in which the year has been broken up into fall and spring segments, has continued apace. Tech has won 30 of its past 34 matches and earned a spot in the AVCA top-25 poll for the first time since 2005.

Even if Tech doesn’t earn the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament (which this year will include 48 teams instead of the standard 64), the Jackets appear to be in solid position for their first NCAA invite since 2009.

The tournament field will be announced Sunday.

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