Georgia outside hitter Kacie Evans (23) prepares to hit the ball during the Red & Black Scrimmage in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

The Georgia volleyball team started Thursday’s matchup against North Carolina State at Stegeman Coliseum just the way it had planned. For the first home match of the season, the focus was on grabbing a lead early and maintaining it. The Bulldogs did just that, as they sealed the first set 25-14 to go up 1-0.

After dropping the second set and cruising to win the third set, Georgia went through the most competitive set of the night in the fourth and needed a spark to seal the win.

Leading up to the fourth set, junior Rachel Ritchie was leading Georgia with 10 kills on the evening, while freshman Kacie Evans followed close behind with eight.

The fourth and final set was all Evans, as she took over to record eight kills in the set alone.

“She was just really dominant,” senior Meghan Donovan said. “Once she’s on, it’s amazing, and she was definitely on tonight… She just goes out there and hits the ball really hard and isn’t really afraid of the block or the defense on the other side of the net.”

A performance like this isn’t much of a surprise to the Bulldogs. Evans has received praise all season from teammates and coaches about how much talent she has and the style of play she brings to the team.

“First of all, I think she has the hardest arm swing I’ve ever seen,” Ritchie said. “She’s always aggressive, no matter what. She’s never gonna take something off the ball for anyone. She definitely has that going for her.”

The performance in the final set helped mark a season-best night for Evans. The 16 kills she earned in Thursday’s match eclipsed her previous best of 15, which was set in the matches against Northwestern and American University in last weekend's Blue Devil Classic.

Evans might’ve had the best performance of her season so far, but she doesn’t hesitate to spread the credit around. She was committed to giving compliments toward Donovan’s sets, and her teammates who made plays before her.

“I knew I had a job to do,” Evans said. “We knew we had to come out [and play]. We scouted them well, we just had to perform our job individually which will lead to the team [success]. I just had to swing. I needed to get the shots I needed to get in, I had to work hard for my team.”

Tonight was Evans’ first time playing at Stegeman Coliseum, which could be enough to allow pre-game nerves to creep in for most, but not Evans.

“I was not nervous at all,” Evans said. “I knew that everyone had my back. I knew that I was ready to play. I’ve been ready to play here since my sophomore year of high school.”

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