The No. 13 Pitt volleyball team continued its impressive start with a weekend sweep over Kennesaw State, Dayton, and No. 12 Washington.
Ironically, the Panthers were challenged the most by the two unranked foes. But don’t be fooled by the names - both Kennesaw State and Dayton are pretty decent. Kennesaw State came into the matchup against Pitt with a 6-0 record and had beaten ACC team Clemson, 3-1. Dayton was 5-2 coming in and had nearly upset No. 12 Washington, narrowly losing 3-2.
Pitt wasn’t just challenged in those matches. Early on, it looked like they could lose both.
The Panthers dropped the first set against Kennesaw State and needed overtime to win the second. At one point, Pitt trailed late in that set had to fight back. After winning the third, Pitt also dropped the fourth, sending it to a fifth set, which Pitt ultimately won, 15-7.
Pitt also struggled early against Dayton, too, dropping that first set. Pitt was again in deep trouble in the second and had to fight back just to win it in overtime. The Panthers then dominated the third and fourth sets, 25-14 and 25-7.
Shockingly, Pitt had the least amount of trouble with what looked like the toughest opponent. The Panthers got a straight sets victory over No. 12 Washington, winning 25-18, 25-13, and 25-17.
I don’t know what happened in those two earlier matches. But both were on Friday and Pitt just didn’t look sharp. The offense was a mess early in both games. On Saturday, the team was much more back to themselves and played extremely well.
At some point, head coach Dan Fisher is going to have to address the early struggles. This wasn’t the first time this season the team had gotten off to a slow start. Pitt had also dropped the first set to Cal Poly and Oklahoma before rallying for 3-1 victories. That the Panthers were able to win those matches without losing any other sets shows you they were the better team. Yet, they got out of the gate slowly. So far, it hasn’t cost the team in terms of a loss but against better programs, you have to figure it could later on.
Where’s this put Pitt in the rankings next week? Well, they’ll obviously jump Washington, who they just beat. They should probably also jump No. 10 USC, who dropped two matches to ranked BYU and Marquette teams. I also think they should probably jump UCLA who was No. 9 and who just lost two matches to Cal Poly - a team Pitt defeated.
After that, it gets more interesting. No. 8 Florida won two matches but was also upset by unranked Northern Arizona. I’m not sure Pitt will jump them, but you can make the case.
The Panthers will need to jump three teams to get into the Top 10 and I think you can make a good argument after knocking off another Top 15 team that they should get there. Another interesting thing is that the earlier win against Cal Poly looks very impressive now, too, as they are now 7-1 and just took down Top 10 UCLA twice.