Pitt’s third-ranked volleyball team faced both North Carolina and North Carolina State at home this weekend. As expected, the Panthers had little trouble with either.
To be fair, North Carolina did actually give the Panthers a really good match. They got more of a challenge than I expected a sub .500 team to give them on the road, anyway. Pitt swept the Tar Heels but only narrowly won the first and third sets, 25-22 and 25-23, respectively. The Panthers won the second one easily, 25-15.
On Sunday, Pitt really got no resistance from NC State. The Panthers won the first set, 25-9, which was, I believe, their easiest set win of the year ... certainly one of the easiest ones, anyway. They then won the next two, 25-16 and 25-12 for yet another sweep.
Both opponents are under .500 on the season. Still, sweeping anyone is always somewhat of an achievement and it’s nice to see the Panthers not allow either team even a single set.
There really wasn’t much noteworthy in either match, though, Layne Van Buskirk got her 1,000th kill against the Tar Heels. Stephanie Williams looked to have a case of the yips in the UNC game as she really struggled with her hitting and even defending as she was targeted on serves again. At one point, coach Dan Fisher had to pull her in place of the top hitting reserve, Zoi Faki. But she rebounded nicely against NC State and did a great job in that match.
About the most interesting thing was that the broadcast crew mentioned the officials don’t have the same replay views that they show over the air. That came into play as NC State challenged a ball they believed Pitt tipped before going out. The TV replay showed it clearly was tipped but the replay the officials had was different and inconclusive meaning NC State lost the challenge.
That seems like a terrible way to do things and, fortunately, it didn’t even come close to deciding the match or even the set. But that’s a pretty clear indication that, at least in volleyball, the replay capabilities seem to be lacking a bit.
Pitt is up to 19-1 on the year now and 14 of their 19 wins have been sweeps. In other words, the Panthers have not only beaten teams but have mostly dominated them.
Next up for Pitt is a couple of tough road matches that should have some bearing on how the conference champion is decided. On Friday, the Panthers first will face Louisville, who is the only other undefeated team left in conference play. After that, they’ll have Notre Dame (Sunday), who has only one conference loss. Right now, though, the Cardinals are locked in a battle with Virginia Tech, so that could change by the time next weekend rolls around.
Either way, the Cardinals are currently ranked No. 23 and, as of right now, the only ranked team left on Pitt’s schedule.