Pitt’s No. 3 volleyball team had a challenging first set but then cruised to another sweep, defeating Syracuse, 3-0. The win keeps the Panthers perfect in the ACC at 5-0 and moves them to 16-1 overall.
I was stunned when I saw that Syracuse was only 4-7 on the year based on how they played in the first set. It was tight the entire way and Syracuse actually held a 24-23 lead. But the Panthers stormed back to win three straight points and narrowly took the set, 26-24. Pitt nearly fell apart at the end of the set and the offense was completely out of sync. I can’t remember offhand if Pitt was going without a setter during that stretch again but things were off. Safe to say, they were pretty fortunate to win that one.
Things were back to normal in the second set. Pitt mostly ran off with that one, winning it, 25-15. The Panthers took the third in short order, too, winning, 25-17.
Pitt played mostly fine tonight. I don’t have the final numbers yet but I didn’t notice any glaring deficiencies. Pitt’s best player, Kayla Lund, rebounded nicely after a tough outing against Florida State’s ridiculous front line last weekend. The offense wasn’t perfect but the Panthers were mostly solid.
A highlight of the match was seeing true freshman Chiamaka Nwokolo have a coming out party of sorts. She’s played a little for Pitt this year but made a big impact in the second set with several kills. Nwokolo was a Top 70 recruit this year and one of the top players in Pitt’s 2019 class. Before tonight, she’d played sparingly but we saw a lot of her in this one and she had a career-high seven kills.
She has the look of a player that should see a lot of time next year when Pitt has to replace some of the production lost by seniors Stephanie Williams and Layne Van Buskirk up front. Nwokolo is athletic and has a big arm. Was great to see her step up and Pitt seems to have gotten that much deeper tonight. The Panthers may not need her much this year but it will great to have her in the mix next season.
Next up for Pitt is a road trip at Boston College on Sunday. That will end a run where Pitt has played nine of their last 11 matches away from home. The match against the Eagles should be a challenging one as they are also undefeated in the ACC and 13-4 overall (though, playing right now).