Match 1: Georgia Tech 3, GSU 0
ATLANTA – Traveling less than two miles from campus, the Georgia State volleyball team fell to Georgia Tech 3-0 on Thursday afternoon in the opener for both teams of the Georgia Challenge at O’Keefe Gym. The Yellow Jackets swept the match by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-15.
Georgia State (3-4) lost its third-straight match, while Georgia Tech improved to 5-2, snapping a two-match losing streak.
Georgia Tech was led by Teegan Van Gunst who just missed a double-double with nine kills and 12 digs. Gabriela Stavnetchei added eight kills and 10 digs for the Yellow Jackets.
Behind strong serving from senior Kristina Stinson, Georgia State opened the first set with six-straight points to take an early 6-0 lead. Tech stormed back, taking an 8-7 lead before head coach Sally Polhamus used her first timeout of the match. The Yellow Jackets continued to pull away earning a 25-19 first set win.
Anna Rantala and Zachary led the Panthers with three kills a piece during the opening frame, but eight attack errors by GSU proved too much to overcome. Tech was led by four kills each from Annika Van Gunst and Stavnetchei as the Yellow Jackets hit .258.
On an ace by Zachary, Georgia State took its first lead of the second set at 8-7 after two previous ties. After trailing by as many as five on three occasions, a kill by Stinson cut the Yellow Jackets lead to 19-16. On a kill by Lee, the Panthers cut the deficit to two, 21-19, forcing Georgia Tech to call its first timeout of the match. After the timeout, Tech won four of the final six points to take the second set 25-21.
Lee led the Panthers with four kills as Renner dished out 11 assists. Teegan Van Gunst paced the Yellow Jackets with five kills on nine attempts.
Despite five ties early in the third set, Georgia Tech started to build a lead, reaching four points on multiple occasions, including 15-11 and 16-12, before pushing away to take the final set, 25-15.
Georgia Tech finished the match outhitting the Panthers .315 to .167, garnering eight service aces.
Georgia State will play its second match of the Georgia Challenge at O’Keefe Gym on the campus of Georgia Tech on Thursday evening at 5 p.m. against Georgia. The tournament will conclude for the Panthers on Friday facing Kennesaw State at 3 p.m.
Match 2: UGA 3, GSU 0
ATLANTA – In the afternoon cap of the doubleheader, Georgia State volleyball got off to a fast start, but went on to lose the match 3-0 to Georgia and fell to 3-5 on the season. The Bulldogs took the match with scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-21.
The Panthers and Bulldogs went back and forth with the score tied several times during the first five points of the match. A UGA service error made it 8-7 Panthers and GSU led all the way until 20-17 on Katelyn Rawls’ back-to-back kills.
From there, the Bulldogs went on an 8-1 run to take the first frame of the match. Anna Rantala led the charge with 5 first-set kills. GSU had a balanced defensive effort with Kristina Stinson, Kaitlyn Dachs and Sarah Renner combining for 11 digs. Maddie Lobenstein and Caroline Ostman paced the attack for the Bulldogs in the first.
UGA kept its distance from GSU in the second frame thanks to Maddie Lobenstein’s attacking play. Rawls’ kill count rose to four and Stinson added the same total in the set. The Panthers couldn’t cut the lead to below six at 22-16 as the Bulldogs kept their distance. Georgia went on to take the set 25-17.
The Panthers had a lot of fight left in them for the third and final set. Head coach Sally Polhamus was pleased with how hard the team fought for the entire match. At one point, GSU led 18-14 on two Eliza Zachary aces. UGA bounced back with an 11-3 run to close out the match, with Lobenstein and Kendall Kazor taking it home for the Bulldogs.
Rantala kept GSU close with her nine kills. Celeste Friesen and Stinson controlled match tempo with 19 combined digs on the match. Sarah Renner, who surpassed 200 kills on the season earlier in the day, led in assists again with 17.
Georgia State will look to get back to its winning ways tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. against the Kennesaw State Owls in the Georgia Challenge finale.
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