The Pitt volleyball team keeps facing quality opponents.
And they keep winning.
The Panthers’ latest act was yet another three-match sweep of opponents this past weekend. Pitt knocked off Cal Poly on Friday, 3-1, before besting No. 16 Utah by that same score, and then defeating Pepperdine in five sets, 3-2. The hat trick moves Pitt to 10-0 on the season and while they did not move up in this week’s poll, they did secure a first-place vote.
Unfortunately the matches were not televised but at least the box scores give us some indication of how the team’s trip went.
Cal Poly is not ranked but they are receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. They are always a tough program that is often ranked and after taking the first set, 25-17, Pitt dropped the second, 32-30. The Panthers won the third by another narrow margin in ‘overtime’, 27-25, before taking the fourth 25-17. The Panthers were pushed in that match but they would be pushed even further.
In between, Pitt had another hard-fought battle, winning 3-1 against No. 16 Utah. The first three sets were all decided by either two or three points with the Panthers winning twice. Pitt then took the fourth, 25-21 to win the match. That was Utah’s first loss of the year.
Pitt was then taken to the limit by host Pepperdine, the least opposing of the three teams they faced at only 3-6. Pitt took the first set 25-17 but then dropped two straight to Pepperdine marking the first time all season that’s happened. Fortunately, the Panthers rallied to win the fourth and fifth sets, remaining unbeaten.
The Panthers’ play was recognized by the conference. Middle Layne Van Buskirk was named the ACC Player of the Week while freshman setter Lexis Akeo was named ACC Freshman of the Week.
All I can say is it would have been great to see these matches. They were all brutally close and while it’s great that Pitt won all three, the reality is that all three could have gone the other way, too. The Panthers pulled out some very close sets and that has to speak to their ability to play under pressure — particularly since they were basically the road team against three western programs.
Really big weekend for them. I don’t know that I would have expected them to remain unbeaten to this point and that’s a testament to how good this team is.
If you think it gets easier after this, think again. Next up is the highly touted home and away series with No. 4 Penn State. Pitt will play at Happy Valley on Friday before hosting a home match on Sunday. I’m really interested in seeing how this series shapes out. Friday’s match will be on the Big Ten Network and Sunday’s match, a Blue Out, will be at the Pete and on ACC Network Extra.