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.
Georgia's Stat Leaders
|Category||Player||Total||Per Gm. Avg.||SEC Rank|
|Hitting Pct.||Alexandra Oquendo||.349||
|Aces||Brooke Burlingame||26||0.25|| |
SEC Honor Roll
Angela Hale, Senior, Political Science
Liz Pace, Senior, Finance
Julia Petruschke, Senior, International Affairs
Meagan Welch, Senior, Management
Brooke Burlingame, Sophomore, Business
All-South Region and Honorable Mention All-American
SEC Defensive Players of the Week
Brooke Burlingame (Week 1)
Meagan Welch (Week 4)
SEC Freshman of the Week
Maria Taylor (Week 2 and 5)
Stats in the SEC Tournament
Here's a look at some of Georgia's career stats in the SEC Tourney:
Petruschke: 6 matches, 22 games, 76 kills, 3.45 k/g, 53 digs, 2.41 d/g
Oquendo: 6 matches, 22 games 103 kills, 5.91 k/g, 26 blocks, 1.18 b/g
Welch: 6 matches, 19 games, 43 kills, 2.26 k/g, 38 digs, 2.0 d/g
Pace: 2 matches, 10 games, 32 digs, 3.2 d/g
Hale: 3 matches, 12 games; Speed: 3 matches, 11 games; Burlingame: 2 matches, 8 games; Krahn: 1 match, 1 game
Petruschke Takes Next Step on Career Kills List
Senior OH Julia Petruschke has reached a spot in the SEC record book that no Georgia player has been since the mid-1990s. The Dresden, Germany native now stands alone in fourth place on the SEC's all-time list for kills. She has 2,011 for her career, recently passing Georgia's Nikki Nicholson (1992-95). Former Bulldog Priscilla Pacheco (1991-94) is the all-time conference leader with 2,675 career kills.
Her current .230 hitting percentage would be the second-best mark of her career, and she is currently fifth in the conference with 4.21 kills/g. Her 408 total kills are tied for the second-most behind LSU's Jelena Mijatovic (411).
Rotation at Setter for Dogs
Former Bulldog setter Margot Wallace tied the SEC one-season record for assists in 2002 and finished seventh on the league's list for career assists. This year a pair of Bulldogs have been used to fill that position and both have played well. Sophomore Chelsea Young has seen most of the action this year at Georgia's "quarterback" spot, but freshman Audra Janak has earned starting assignments as well. Janak set her career high with 34 assists and 16 digs in a home win over South Carolina. Young had an SEC-high 69 assists in a win over Ole Miss just one week after posting 68 assists against Michigan. She is currently in the SEC's top seven with 9.51 assists per game.
Steffi Legall is just the fourth head coach in Georgia history.
Here's a look at how the Bulldogs finished up previous seasons under first-year coaches:
Year -- Record -- Coach -- Post-Season
1978 -- 17-19 -- Sid Feldman -- None: In Georgia's first season as a varsity sport, the Bulldogs had a stretch of six consecutive wins during the year.
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
Alexandra Oquendo and Julia Petruschke have already established themselves as one of the best offensive duos in Georgia history and are continuing to lead the Bulldogs in 2005. Both players currently rank in the SEC's top six in kills per game. Their combined numbers are 812 kills with a .284 hitting percentage, or 56 percent of Georgia's total kills. That is a higher percentage than any other attack combo in the SEC.
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
Alexandra Oquendo and her national team from Puerto Rico advanced to the 2006 Volleyball World Championships with a second-place showing at the FIVB Women's Championship Qualification Tournament in Puerto Rico midway through August.
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
Brooke Burlingame Week 1 SEC Defensive Player of the Week
CoSida Academic All-District (3rd Team)
Maria Taylor Week 2 SEC Freshman of the Week
Week 5 SEC Freshman of the Week
ALL-SEC Freshman Team
Meagan Welch Week 4 SEC Defensive Player of the Week
Georgia Invitational All-Tourney Team
Julia Petruschke Georgia Invitational All-Tourney Team
All-SEC (2nd Team)
Alexandra Oquendo Red Raider Round Up All-Tourney Team
All-SEC (1st Team)
Simona Speed SEC Good Works Team
Georgia in the SEC Stats
Category Name (rank entering weekend) Avg. Total
Hitting Pct. Alexandra Oquendo (5) .353
Kills Julia Petruschke (5) 4.21 408
Alexandra Oquendo (6) 4.16 404
Assists Chelsea Young (7) 9.51 875
Digs Brooke Burlingame (8) 3.95 391
Blocks Alexandra Oquendo (9) 1.11 108
Climbing the SEC Stat Chart
1. Priscilla Pacheco, UGA 2,675 1991-94
2. Krystal Osborne, ARK 2,185 1994-97
3. Erin Heffner, BAMA 2,090 2001-04
4. Julia Petruschke 2,011 2002-
5. Nikki Nicholson, UGA 1,850 1992-95
1. Priscilla Pacheco, UGA 6,006 1991-94
2. Krystal Osborne, ARK 5,626 1994-97
3. Julia Petruschke 4,929 2002-
4. Erin Heffner, BAMA 4,785 2001-04
Senior Class - By the Numbers
Georgia's senior class of five, which includes Angela Hale, Alexandra Oquendo, Liz Pace, Julia Petruschke and Meagan Welch, represent the third-largest senior class in program history. The 1989 team had the largest senior class ever for the Bulldogs with seven members, and the inaugural team in 1978 featured a group of six seniors.
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.