Georgia outside hitter Rachel Ritchie (7) calls a ball out during an NCAA volleyball match between the University of Georgia and the University of Arkansas in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

The Georgia volleyball team beat North Carolina State in four sets in its first game of the Georgia Tournament.

The Bulldogs won the first set of the game 25-14 thanks in part to junior Rachel Ritchie's five kills. N.C. State responded in the next set with an 8-1 lead over the Bulldogs which caused Georgia head coach Tom Black to call a timeout.

Georgia then came back and took the lead but ultimately failed to keep it, losing 25-20.

“Our serve receive was in and out, and we weren’t making simple plays," Black said. "Whenever we do that, the game starts getting really hard, which got us stuck in the same rotation for two long stretches. Then we thought we had the game under control and then gave it back up and it was a dog fight for the rest of the match.” 

Georgia then took an early lead in the third set which was later ended by Meghan Donovan and Kayla Rivera getting back-to-back blocks, ending the set at a score of 25-15.

During a close last set, Kacie Evans led Georgia with eight kills and it came out victorious 25-20. Evans earned more kills (16) than any other Bulldog on the night. 

Evans credited her teammates for her success and said she couldn’t take any credit because she couldn't have done it without them.

“She’s just a really dominant player and once she is on its amazing and she was definitely on tonight and she got a lot of blocks too,” Donovan said. “She just goes out there and hits it really hard and isn’t afraid of the blocker or defense.”

Two other offensive standouts were Ritchie, who ended the night with 13 kills, and Rivera, who had 11 kills.

On defense, junior Kendall Glover got 17 digs and three aces. Sage Naves and Rivera had four blocks each, which tied a season-best 11 blocks. 

Overall, Georgia’s win leads them with high momentum into its match against rival Georgia Tech.

“We definitely need to work on just connecting more and having a lot more fun on the court [against Georgia Tech],” said Evans. “We are on the home gym for the first time in a couple months so I feel like we should take that in a little bit and know we have a great community around here and that we are playing for them.”

The Bulldogs will take on Georgia Tech 8 p.m. on Friday at Stegeman Coliseum. They will award the first 1,000 students with T-shirts as an incentive to get a large audience to come out and support the team.

"We are really happy to be at home against our rivalry and we’ll hopefully see a big crowd here and give them a great match to watch,” said Black.

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