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No. 11 Pitt falls to Michigan in NCAA Volleyball Tournament, 3-2

Pitt’s volleyball team put up a fight but in the end, was defeated by No. 18 Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 3-2. For the Panthers, it was another early exit as Pitt could not get to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year.

Pitt (30-2), for what it’s worth, played a very good Michigan team. The Panthers took the first set before dropping the second and third. Winning the fourth, they were in position to take the match. But Pitt lost the fifth set, 15-9, ending their season.

As expected, Pitt was without Kayla Lund, who was out for the match with an injury. She hurt her leg/ankle yesterday and it looked pretty bad as she couldn’t put any weight on it. Surprisingly, she was out there during warmups and tried to go but in the end, sat it out. That she was out there for warmups gave me hope that she could be available in the next round if Pitt advanced. Of course, though, that’s a moot point now.

There is little doubt Pitt could have used her. With the football game on at the same time, I only saw the first half of the match. Pitt played okay but clearly missed her. Pitt’s hitting percentage early on was terrible (as was Michigan’s, actually). That made for a lot of long rallies and Pitt’s offense is typically a lot more efficient. You have to think that Lund could have made a difference in the second set when Pitt lost 25-22. Or maybe in the shortened fifth set. That’s not making excuses, obviously, but as I’ve said before, Lund is arguably the team’s best player. Take that off any team and almost all would have trouble when facing a Top 20 team.

As I said before, Pitt really needed to have this one. It’s a little more understandable that they couldn’t win given that they were without Lund. But the fight for respect will continue because the Wolverines were only the seventh best team in the Big Ten this year. You lose this one at home as the conference champion and there’s no doubt that the ACC will continue to be downgraded a bit.

This one’s going to sting for a while. But this isn’t the time to complain — particularly when you understand how much Lund was missed. The fact is that Pitt had a phenomenal year. 30-2 in any major conference is a supreme achievement and what this team accomplished was really impressive. Even beyond that, the program is in really good shape, returning most of their team next year.

Disappointing end but a great season that deserves recognition.

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