ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia volleyball team recorded three-set sweeps of both Jacksonville and Army Thursday at Ramsey Student Center to open the Bulldog Classic.
Georgia climbs to 6-2 on the season.
Georgia 3, Jacksonville 0
Georgia began the Bulldog Classic with a straight sets win against Jacksonville (25-12, 25-14, 25-18).
The offense was well distributed for Georgia led by eight kills from Sophie Fischer. Ceci Gooch and Estelle Haugen each tallied seven in the match, a season high for Gooch while hitting an impressive .778 on nine swings and no errors.
Georgia shined at the service line, laying down 10 aces, led by four from Clara Brower, tying a career best, and two each from Kacie Evans and Mallory Downing.
Defensively, Georgia's nine total blocks were led by six from Gooch and three each from Tori Harper, Eric Staunton, and Fischer. Downing put up 11 digs.
The Bulldogs started the match off with an early eight-point run, including two Evans aces, to go up 12-4 on the Dolphins (3-4). The Bulldogs kept their foot on the gas, rolling to a 25-12 set one win, finishing the set on a 5-1 run. Haugen led the attack with four first set kills.
Another 8-0 run early in the second set propelled Georgia out in front 12-4. It was all Georgia in the set. A Fischer ace brought the score to 22-10. Jacksonville slowed the Bulldog attack, winning four of the next five point, but Georgia held on to take the set 25-14 and the 2-0 lead in the match. Three of Brower's four aces came in the second stanza.
The Dogs jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in the third and slowly built on the lead, holding a 15-8 lead going into the media timeout. A 5-2 run out of the break, widened Georgia's lead to nine, 20-11. The teams nearly went point-for-point down the stretch as Georgia went on to win the set 25-18 and earn the sweep.
Georgia 3, Army 0
Georgia concluded day one of the Bulldog Classic with its second sweep the day, this time against the Army Black Knights (25-17, 25-13, 25-17).
Fischer once again led the offense, laying down 15 kill, hitting .565 in the match. Haugen and Evans each tallied seven kills with two aces each.
Brower picked up her second double-double of the season, dishing out 34 assists and putting up 11 digs. On the net, Fischer recorded four blocks while Gooch and Haugen each contributed on three.
Georgia found an early 5-2 lead, but Army worked to make the first set close, with Georgia leading 15-14 at the first set media timeout. The Dogs won six of the next seven points after the timeout to go up 21-15. Georgia finished the set on a 4-1 run to take the stanza 25-17. Evans led the offense with four kills in the set.
Knotted at 7-all in the second set, four straight from Georgia opened an 11-7 lead and prompted an Army (2-6) timeout. Georgia continued to build on the lead, going up 20-12 and exhausting the Black Knight's timeouts. The Dogs won five of the last six points to win the set 25-13 and go up 2-0 in the match. A great play by Bailey Cox on the final point kept the rally alive for Georgia to take the set.
Georgia jumped out in front 7-4 in the third and held a 13-9 lead as Army called its first timeout. The Dogs lengthened the lead to six, 18-12, before a 3-0 Black Knight run closed the gap to three, 18-15. Georgia regrouped to close the set and match on a 7-2 run, 25-17, and securing the sweep.
Head Coach Tom Black
On starting the tournament with two wins... "I thought we executed at a pretty good level. We played two solid games. It was a good solid day as a whole."
On what the team did well today... "Especially in the second match, serving and passing was pretty dominant. I thought the first match, our non-setter setting was great. We were able to keep the hitters in rhythm and get some solid swings."
On the focus going into the next game... "I think we just want to keep building on the things we want to get better at. Serve and pass was great. We want to keep building on that. I think we could be a bigger presence at the net blocking. We will keep working on those things."
#24 Mallory Downing | Sr. | L/DS
On Georgia's performance against Jacksonville and Army... "I'm really proud with our consistency. We've had a hard time in the past showing up and playing hard no matter who the opponent is, and I think today - this morning and tonight - we did a really good job with that. I'm really proud of us."
On the importance of early-season tournament success... "It's important for us to start strong. We always try to do that, and I think this year was good. We came into preseason camp focused. We had our goals, we're staying together, and we know what we want in our culture. Preseason is super important, but SEC play is right around the corner. That is definitely in the back of our minds too, but we're trying to take it one game at a time."
#5 Bailey Cox | L/DS | Jr.
On what was going through her head after saving a ball going way out of bounds... "Whenever Kacie [Evans] got that good dig, I was like, 'Oh, shoot, I've got to make this play for her.' We work on that turn and run situation a lot during practice, so it felt so good to be able to do that in a match. It doesn't feel any better than to do that for my team and see the smiles on their faces after making a play like that. So, it was pretty cool."
On the energy the crowd gives the team... "The crowd in Ramsey is like no other. We all talk in the locker room and outside of the gym about how much the fans mean to us. It means everything to see all these people show up for us. It makes us want to show up for them as well, and for each other."
Georgia concludes the Bulldog Classic Friday evening at 6 p.m. taking on Samford at Ramsey Student Center.