Under first-year Bulldogs coach Steffi Legall, Georgia's 2005 season opened with five straight matches at home. The Bulldogs got off to a racing start at 4-1, including a win over rival Clemson, but the roller coaster ride that defined the season in moments of highs and lows was just beginning.
A road trip to Lubbock, Texas, moved Georgia's record back to .500 with highly anticipated matches against Michigan and Georgia Tech coming up at the Ramsey Center. The Bulldogs fell to the Wolverines in a five-game thriller and swept away the Yellow Jackets in three straight. But any signs of momentum were tough to hold onto the next week when the SEC season opened away from Athens.
After a win at Ole Miss for a 1-0 start in the league, the Bulldogs' match at Mississippi State was suspended when tornadoes hit the Starkville, Miss., area. That halted match would make for a marathon weekend in early November after Georgia struggled through October. The Bulldogs lost eight of their first 10 SEC matches but fought the entire regular season to earn a spot in the conference tournament.
Georgia eventually landed as the eighth seed in the SEC Tourney, though it could have been much higher with some good bounces here or there. The Bulldogs played in the second-most five-game matches of anyone in the SEC with eight. Georgia was 3-5 in those contests, a good indicator of how close the Bulldogs came to breaking through in some tight matches.
"The one thing we were missing this year was a win-whatever-it-takes attitude," Legall said. "That will be our focus in spring training, next summer and in the pre-season."
The 2005 season was the last for Georgia's senior class of five. It was the Bulldogs' largest senior group since 1989 and included Angela Hale, Alexandra Oquendo, Liz Pace, Julia Petruschke and Meagan Welch. The class had a career record of 66-58 including the 2004 trip to the NCAA Tournament and a 20-win season as freshmen in 2002.
Petruschke and Oquendo ended their careers as one of Georgia's most effective offensive duos. Petruschke became just the fourth player in SEC history to pass the 2,000 mark for career kills and finished with 2,030. She also finished in fifth place on Georgia's all-time list for digs at 1,295.
Oquendo was Georgia's '05 representative on the All-SEC First Team, making her the first Bulldog to earn that honor in back-to-back years since Hadli Anstine and Nikki Nicholson in 1995 and the 12th Georgia player with multiple All-SEC first-team honors. Her .361 career hitting percentage set a new Georgia record and was good enough for 10th in the SEC record book.
Both Petruschke and Oquendo ranked in the SEC's top 10 in kills per game at the end of the year, with Petruschke in fourth place with 4.15 kills/g and Oquendo at fifth with 4.07 k/g. They combined for 846 kills, or 55 percent of Georgia's total, which was the highest percentage of any attack combo in the SEC.
In matches against SEC opponents the pair was just as effective, as Oquendo was fourth in the league in kills per game in SEC matches while Petruschke was fifth.
Georgia has a history of players with outstanding freshman seasons and Maria Taylor was nothing short of outstanding in her first year as a Bulldog. She ended the year just behind Georgia's attack duo with 338 kills, earning a spot on the league's All-Freshman team. She had two matches during the season with over 20 kills and both were in SEC action against Kentucky and Auburn.
Sophomore libero Brooke Burlingame was Georgia's defensive leader, becoming the first Bulldog since 1993 with more than 400 digs. She had 402 at the end of the year and was eighth in the league in digs per game with 3.83. She was named the SEC's first Defensive Player of the Week award and was named to the Academic All-District Third Team.
SEC Honor Roll
All-South Region and Honorable Mention All-American
SEC Defensive Players of the Week
SEC Freshman of the Week
Stats in the SEC Tournament
Petruschke Takes Next Step on Career Kills List
Rotation at Setter for Dogs
Year -- Record -- Coach -- Post-Season
1989 -- 29-4 -- Jim Iams -- NIVC: The Bulldogs finished 7-1 in the SEC and went a combined 5-0 over rivals Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida and Auburn.
2000 -- 15-15 -- Mary Buczek -- SEC Semis: Georgia finished at .500 after ending the previous year six games under.
2005 -- 10-16 -- Steffi Legall -- SEC Tournament: Legall joins Iams as the only Georgia coaches to win his/her first match.
Last Time Around for Oquendo and Petruschke
Last year Oquendo became Georgia's first All-American since 1994 when she set a Bulldog-record .410 hitting percentage on 515 kills. She was the AVCA Player of the Week when she finished a match against Kentucky on Oct. 8 with 35 kills and no errors.
Petruschke burst onto the scene a little quicker than Oquendo. As a freshman in 2002, Petruschke led the SEC with 665 kills, earning her Freshman of the Year honors.
Only three other attack combos have posted the numbers Oquendo and Petruschke did a year ago, and each pair led the Bulldogs to a memorable season. The 1985 and '86 teams, behind Shelly Gross and Diane Rohde, Georgia won SEC Championships. The 1993 team of Priscilla Pacheco and Nikki Nicholson preceded their '94 NCAA campaign with a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. And the 1990 Bulldogs, with attackers Christie Lord and Sue Novak, reached the NIVC semifinals.
The 1994 tandem of Pacheco and Nicholson combined for the most kills by a pair of Bulldogs with 1,328 in one of Georgia's eight NCAA Tournament seasons. That same year Pacheco led the NCAA in kills with 785 and was named All-American and the SEC Player of the Year. Nicholson was named a Second-Team All-American.
Oquendo Qualifies for Worlds
The World Championships will be held next Nov. 16 - Dec. 3 in Japan.
During the tournament Oquendo's team defeated Barbados, Mexico and Canada (twice). The United States won the tournament and defeated Puerto Rico in two meetings.
2005 Bulldog Award Winners
Georgia in the SEC Stats
Climbing the SEC Stat Chart
Senior Class - By the Numbers
The class has a career record of 66-57 including last year's trip to the NCAA Tournament and a 20-win season as freshmen in 2002.