This year, the Pitt volleyball team had an incredible season at 26-7. The Panthers not only reached the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, but they also won a share of the ACC championship. And in the Tournament, the team did a little damage as well, winning their first match before falling to No. 1 overall seed Penn State in the second round.
The good news for the program is that next year could be even better.
The biggest reason for that is because the team doesn’t lose much. The biggest loss is clearly Mariah Bell. Bell was an All-ACC outside hitter as a junior in 2016 and a skilled player. But this season, she was moved to the bench behind freshman phenom Kayla Lund, who was on the ACC All Freshman team and nearly won the ACC Freshman of the Year award. Bell’s loss hurts but as long as Lund and others stay healthy, the impact will be a minimal one.
Also lost is senior transfer Alex Rosignol. Rosignol was a middle hitter that transferred to Pitt from Southern Illinois last season. She also came off the bench for defensive purposes as Chinaza Ndee and Layne Van Buskirk mostly patrolled the middle for Pitt. Rosignol was also a good player but as a reserve, the impact from her loss will probably be a minimal one.
Rosignol’s departure also hurts even less because of Pitt’s incoming recruiting class. The Panthers brought in two middles and a third that appears destined for a full-time move to setter. And as we saw with Ndee this season, the Panthers won’t be afraid to not only play freshman, but start them if they’re good enough.
Barring any transfers, that’s it. The team gets a year older and, presumably, better while adding some talented freshmen. Pitt should have a chance at another ACC title as well as a deeper NCAA Tournament run.
Looking even further, Pitt is seemingly in good shape for the long run. The Panthers will need to replace setter Kamalani Akeo and libero Angela Seman after next season as well as serving specialist Emily Horner and Hanna Markewycz off the bench but will return the core of their hitters and offensive standouts even after the 2018 season is over.
As head coach Dan Fisher said recently, the future of the program is bright.