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Pitt volleyball calls for blueout at Penn State match

The top-10 showdown between the rivals is set for Sunday at the Pete

Matt Hawley

The Pitt volleyball team is off to a torrid start to the 2019 season, as it has gone 10-0 since play began on Aug. 30. Over the last two weeks, the team, which is ranked sixth in the nation, has logged wins over No. 10 Oregon before a national audience on ESPNU and No. 16 Utah during a three-match road trip to Malibu, California, where it also beat Cal Poly and Pepperdine at the Pepperdine Asics Classic.

However, while Pitt has already played in a few high-stakes matchups, few compare to the top-10 home-and-home series Pitt has coming up this weekend, as the team will face No. 4 Penn State in University Park before returning home to Pittsburgh, where Pitt will face Penn State at the Petersen Events Center. And for the game at the Pete, the team is calling for a blueout.

Pitt's blueout tradition dates back to 2009, when students wanted to blue out Heinz Field for a homecoming game against South Florida. At the time, the event was called the “Turn It Blue” promotion, and former Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson discussed its origins with Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

”I got a letter from some of our students who said they thought it would be fun to turn the stadium blue,” Pederson told Zeise in 2009. “And so we’ll ask not only all the students, but all of our fans to come in blue to the game and celebrate and have fun together.”

This time around, at least three key details of the blueout will be different: the sport, the occasion and the shade of blue.

Since 2009, a year when the football team enjoyed its first 10-win season since 1981 and the men’s basketball team recorded a program-record 31 wins, Pitt’s volleyball team has emerged as the most dominant athletic entity on campus. And in an era in which conference realignment has ruined rivalries, homecoming has come to take a backseat to the occasions when rivals meet in meaningful matchups.

And, of course, Pitt underwent a rebrand earlier this year, eschewing its navy and vegas color scheme for royal and gold. So the blueout, in turn, is intended to be a showcase of Pitt’s royal blue rather than the navy blue it shared with Penn State for several years.

Pitt and Penn State are set to meet at the Petersen Events Center at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Despite its lower ranking, Pitt brings a better record into the matchup, as Penn State currently sits at 6-1 on the season. However, Penn State's lone loss came to No. 2 Stanford.

The first leg of the two-game series, which will be played in University Park, can be viewed on the Big Ten Network at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.