The First Academy alumna Matti McKissock honored by ACC

McKissock, a Windermere resident, was recently named First Team All-ACC and Server of the Year as a member of the Georgia Tech volleyball team.

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  • | 2:25 p.m. December 12, 2019
Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics
Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics
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When Matti McKissock arrived to volleyball practice it felt just like any typical day.

But this practice — as it turns out — would start with some major news.

The team and coaching staff huddled around Joeleen Akin — the associate athletics director for student-athlete development and senior woman administrator — as she announced awards handed down to a few players by the ACC.

McKissock was among those mentioned, as she — much to her surprise — was named First Team All-ACC and Server of the Year.

“At first she announced I was First Team and then Setter of the Year, and I was just really shocked — I didn’t really believe it at first,” McKissock said. “It was very emotional for all of us just knowing that all of our hard work had paid off, even though we didn’t get the bid into the (NCAA) that we wanted.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics
Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics

“It feels really humbling, and I’m just super grateful for the opportunity to be in the situation that I was in to even be in the running for those awards,” she said.

An alumna of The First Academy, McKissock has become one of the ACC’s best players over the last two years and the ultimate assist woman for the Yellow Jackets (23-8, 14-4). 

In this 2019 season for Georgia Tech, the sophomore setter has picked up an impressive 1,270 assists — the rest of the team has only 211 — in 113 sets played. So while McKissock was surprised at being named Setter of the Year, the stats were there the whole time.

A big part of that stat boost had as much to do with her team as it did for McKissock on an individual level, she said.

“We definitely all had more confidence,” McKissock said. “And it just put less pressure on everyone knowing that we were all more confident, and had a year of playing with each other and playing against these other teams.”

Building confidence is something that McKissock has been working on since she first arrived to Georgia Tech in the fall of 2018, and it has taken patience and time.

Transitioning from high school volleyball at TFA and club volleyball to Division 1 is a challenge — one you’re not fully aware of until you make the move, McKissock said. The game is faster paced, more physically demanding and required McKissock to learn a completely new game plan.

Going into her freshman year in 2018, McKissock didn’t know what to expect as far as playing time was concerned. But she didn’t expect to start 29 matches for the Yellow Jackets as a freshman.

“At first she announced I was First Team and then Setter of the Year, and I was just really shocked — I didn’t really believe it at first.”

— Matti McKissock

“There was actually a transfer setter out, so that opened up the spot for me to come in,” McKissock said. “And I knew that there was another girl here, so I knew it was up in the air that I could be playing this much, but it definitely wasn’t wide open.”

To start the year, however, McKissock was coming off the bench regularly — something she hadn’t done in years. So the first big challenge she had to face was overcoming those feelings of not being a starter.

“It was an upset for myself that I wasn’t starting in the beginning,” McKissock  said. “I never doubted myself — I knew I could do it and I knew I was deserving and I worked hard enough. I just tried to calm myself down.”

It wasn’t until ACC play that McKissock locked down her starting spot as the team’s setter — from there she would lead the Yellow Jackets in assists (929) and had a career high of 52 assists against the University of Virginia.

The success from last year continues this season for McKissock, and while she and her team didn’t make the NCAA tournament like they were hoping to, the Yellow Jackets are getting to take part in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. 

“It means so much to me that I get to play a sport that I truly love and enjoy,” McKissock said. “(I) play it with some amazing people — I love all of my teammates, and I’ve met so many amazing people through club and TFA.”


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