Pitt’s volleyball team picked up a key victory on Friday, defeating Miami at home, 3-1.
The Panthers (18-6) really looked impressive but got off to a slow start. The Hurricanes’ (15-5) front line gave Pitt fits offensively and defensively early on and, judging by that first set, I wasn’t sure the Panthers would be able to win. They were down at one point by six or seven and were sort of struggling to get much momentum offensively. They came back and the set ended up being close but they still felt short, dropping the first set, 25-22.
The next three sets were a different story, though. Pitt won the second set big, 25-16, and cruised in the third as well, taking that one by an even bigger margin, 25-11. The third set was closer but the Panthers won that as well, 25-20, to close out the match.
The night belonged to true freshman, Kayla Lund, who had possibly her most impressive game to date. She led the team in kills with 19 (also a career-high) hitting .364 on the night. Nika Markovic registered 15 kills as well and led the team in hitting percentage with a blistering .448.
Miami just looked pretty bad after that first set. They finished with twice as many errors as Pitt (22 to 11) and, to be surprised, I was surprised it wasn’t even higher than that. They flubbed a lot of serves and even the ones they kept in play, they could never get the ball in good position to set up their offense. I wasn’t real impressed with them last night even though I know they’re a better team. Their star, outside hitter Olga Strantzali, was solid but even she had her share of miscues and they couldn’t really get going all night.
It was important for Pitt to get this one as Miami is a nice win. They were the best team left on the Panthers’ schedule. Pitt really has a light schedule to close out the year. Duke is solid at 16-8 but after that, the Panthers will play some of the weaker teams in the conference.
The win kept Pitt in a three-way tie for first place with Louisville and NC State, who both also won on Friday. It also drops Miami 2 1⁄2 games back and probably out of the race to win the conference. One thing to watch is that Louisville and NC State will go head to head in a couple of weeks and that is probably the biggest in-conference matchup left in the ACC.
Next up for Pitt is a match against Florida State on Sunday. The Seminoles are usually pretty good but struggling a little this year at 12-9.