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Despite fast start, Pitt volleyball not gaining traction in the polls

Photo used with permission from the University of Pittsburgh athletics department (www.pittsburghpanthers.com)

With football season in full swing, we've not had time to check in as much on some of the Olympic sports. One that deserves some attention, though, is the volleyball team.

A while back, I mentioned that the Panthers' women had gotten off to a fast start. Since then, that's continued, and the team is now 8-1, adding more wins to their total. In the Panther Classic this weekend, the women made quick work of their opponents, Duquesne, Norfolk State, and Niagara. The 8-1 start is the best one the program has had since 2006-07.

Despite the nearly unbeaten record, however, Pitt is still finding respect difficult to come by. In the latest women's volleyball rankings that were released on Monday, the Panthers aren't in the Top 25 or even in the Others Receiving Votes category that was listed (six additional programs received a vote, but weren't listed).

That's largely due to the somewhat weak schedule the team has faced so far and that's made evident by teams with two, and even three, losses that are ranked. Pitt hasn't yet played a team ranked in the Top 25 (or that even received votes), and in their one modest test, was beaten by Colorado, 3-1. On the surface, the 8-1 start looks great. But Pitt will need to beat a quality team to get more recognition.

In other years, the program has gotten off to good starts, and thus far, the level of competition has been exceedingly light. But there's some reason for optimism, because those teams haven't looked as dominant as this year's squad, which is not only winning, but doing so easily. In each of their eight wins this season, the team has swept opponents, winning three sets to none.

Pitt will get plenty of chances to prove itself later this year against ranked ACC opponents, Florida State and North Carolina, and a slew of others, including Duke and Louisville - the ACC programs currently receiving votes. If they're able to make some noise in the conference, that will help in their quest for more recognition.

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