Pitt’s volleyball team fought through a tough first set but ultimately cruised over Notre Dame to remain unbeaten, sweeping the Irish, 3-0.
The first set made it seem like Pitt would be in for a struggle. At one point, the Panthers got down four points and it looked like they could drop the set. But they chipped away at the Irish lead and after tying it at 23, won the next two points to take the set, 25-23.
The Panthers, though, had little trouble in the next two sets, winning comfortably, 25-17 and 25-18. The victory moves the Panthers to a perfect 21-0 and 9-0 in the ACC.
Both teams were really sloppy in that first set and that’s what gave me some concern. Even though Notre Dame wasn’t playing super well, they still managed to hang with Pitt.
Notre Dame came in with the No. 1 defense in the ACC and it was easy to see why in that first set as the Panthers’ hitters were frustrated as the Irish dug and blocked their way to a near win there. Pitt’s hitters mostly looked off to me. The setting could have been a little better, I suppose, but hitters were mistiming their jumps for most of the set, it seemed. I’m not sure if that was in an effort to try to find holes on the court or if they were just having a bad set. But the problem got solved and Pitt really didn’t have much trouble the rest of the way.
Pitt has an interesting matchup on Sunday as they’ll face what is now a ranked Louisville team. The Cardinals are the best team left on the Panthers’ schedule and will give them another chance for a quality win.
Those wins, by the way, are extremely important. That’s because Pitt continues to be, in this writer’s fair opinion, disrespected in the polls. Pitt was No. 6 last week and, despite remaining undefeated, stayed there this week. No. 5 Nebraska lost to No. 9 Penn State and, despite having three losses, the Nittany Lions incredulously jumped five spots and ahead of the Panthers. Equally idiotic was the fact that Nebraska did not fall even a single spot.
Volleyball seems to have a particularly difficult problem with the concept of rankings. Teams are routinely given the benefit of the doubt. In football, the math would be relatively simple here. Nebraska would slide down far enough so that Pitt could overtake them (likely a few spots), Penn State would move up, and Pitt would move up. In the bizarro world of the volleyballs, the team that did not lose gets no credit, the team that lost is not harmed, and the team that won jumps everybody. Go figure.
The great thing about volleyball polls is that the voting is transparent. Some of these ‘voters’ have Pitt as low as No. 10 and No. 11, which of course, makes sense to no one possessing 3⁄4 of a full brain. If you’re curious, said voter polls can be seen here.
Now, some of this, you might suspect would be due to RPI. Problem is, the Panthers actually have the highest RPI of the three teams. Better record, higher RPI, three fewer losses - and still ranked lower.
In other words, the more quality wins the Panthers can pick up, the better. Frankly, I’m not sure a win over Louisville will matter much to voters when they still continue to rank the Panthers so low. But the bigger problem is that if the Panthers lose a match, they could be looking at a big drop. After all, if they can’t garner credit when they’re winning, imagine would happen if they actually prove human and, like the teams in front of them, actually lose a match.
Keep winning, ladies.