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Pitt volleyball advances in NCAA Tournament with sweep over Long Island

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The Pitt volleyball team mostly cruised in a 3-0 sweep over Long Island on Wednesday night in its opening NCAA Tournament match. Next up for the Panthers is a matchup against No. 14 overall seed Utah.

Things weren’t all easy for Pitt (17-4). Despite a fast 6-0 start in the first set, the Panthers hit poorly, connecting at a .156 clip — virtually identical to LIU (8-6). Pitt had to hold off two Long Island comebacks before winning in extra points, 26-24. Heck, the Panthers had to stage a mini comeback of their own after briefly falling behind in the set. Pitt got a couple of really great, critical kills from star Kayla Lund, who showed her worth yet again as a go to hitter.

After that, though, the Panthers dominated. They hit .579 in the second set on the way to an easy 25-11 win and, while I didn’t see their final hitting percentage after the broadcast, they were up over .600 at one point on their way to a 25-10 victory. The Panthers just played a well-rounded game, had strong defense, and faced an LIU team that had a nightmare of a time trying to score points.

I don’t quite know what happened in the first set. Sure, it’s been nearly two weeks since Pitt last played but LIU had a slightly longer break, not playing since March 31. The Panthers just got out to a slow start but fortunately got things turned around.

Next up is Utah. How the two teams react will be interesting. The game is on Thursday, 24 hours after this one so the Panthers will have the benefit of having played more recently. But with a quick turnaround time, you also wonder if Pitt will be at a disadvantage against a rested Utah team. Utah, meanwhile, could have the same problem Pitt did tonight.

While a loss technically would not be an upset, as I wrote here, Utah seems like a team that is very beatable. If nothing else, I believe they were seeded too high. Again, not to say Pitt can’t lose. If you watched the first set against LIU, you know not to take anything for granted. But it’s a match that, should the Panthers play well in, they are quite capable of winning.

Match time is at 10:30 p.m. and you can catch it on WatchESPN again.

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