The No. 4 Pitt volleyball team spent the weekend on the road with stops at Notre Dame and Louisville, and while the visit to the Fighting Irish yielded a 3-2 victory, the meeting with the second-ranked Cardinals did not go to plan, and the Panthers suffered a 3-2 defeat.
Pitt and Notre Dame met on Friday night at Purcell Pavilion and traded blows in a back-and-forth match. The Panthers took the first set by a score of 25-18, with Pitt outside hitter Leketor Member-Meneh leading the way with five kills. And although the score was close, the Irish never gained a lead on the Panthers. That would change in the second set, as the Irish gained an early 2-1 lead over the Panthers and never looked back en route to a 25-20 set win. The third set would be a tense affair decided late, as the Irish led 19-18 but the Panthers fought back for a 25-21 win. The following set would see Pitt struggle after building up a 14-12 lead, allowing Notre Dame to go on a 13-5 run and win 25-19. And that set up a fifth set that Pitt would win 15-10 to take the match.
On Sunday, Pitt would face Louisville in a top-five matchup at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena, and the result would be another close matchup. Once again, the Panthers took the first set, this time by a score of 25-19, but they would drop the next two 25-20 and 27-25. The fourth set also appeared to be in jeopardy, as Pitt trailed 21-20 late. But with a 5-1 run, the Panthers were able to win 25-22. That forced a fifth set that looked to be going Pitt’s way early, as the Panthers led 8-6. However, the Cardinals regained the lead and refused to let it go, winning the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
The win over Notre Dame was Pitt’s 18th of the season, but the story of the weekend was Pitt’s struggles in both matchups and the loss to Louisville, which was just the second of the year for the Panthers. Prior to October, Pitt had put on a dominant showing, recording six shutouts in September. However, since Oct. 10, wins have been harder to come by, with the Panthers falling twice and failing to shut out any of their opponents.
Pitt will look to get back on track this weekend, as the team is set to return home to the Fitzgerald Field House and face Wake Forest on Friday night and Virginia Tech on Sunday. The matchup with the 11-10 Demon Deacons will mark the end of a four-game stretch on the road and should set the Panthers up for a successful run against the dregs of the ACC, as the Deacs and Hokies hold a collective 2-18 conference record this season.