The Pitt volleyball program has been rewarded with the play of several transfers in recent years. This week, they landed maybe the most significant one of all so far in Penn State middle blocker Serena Gray.
Gray is a two-time All American Honorable Mention who has been a starter for the Nittany Lions. She is headed to Pitt and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
“I’m beyond excited to announce this,” Fisher said. “Serena [Gray] is one of the top players in the country and we expect her to have an immediate impact here at Pitt. It was the right fit for her culturally and academically. We’re thrilled that she’s joining us in Pittsburgh.”
With the return of seniors Kayla Lund and Chinaza Ndee, Pitt appears poised to make another deep NCAA Tournament run.
The Panther that is likely paying the most attention to the transfer is middle Sabrina Starks. Starks has been the team’s starter in the middle and is no slouch. Statistically, she’s been a roadblock in the middle, ranking seventh in the nation with 116 total blocks. Her 1.32 blocks per set actually dwarfed Gray’s .79. Starks holds her own offensively, too, but Gray holds the advantage there, recording 2.09 kills/set to Starks’ 1.55. What is notable, however, is that Starks’ hitting percentage was significantly higher (.377 to Gray’s .287).
Despite all of that, Gray is widely viewed as the better player with the All-American honors. Even head coach Dan Fisher touts her as ‘one of the top players in the country’ and says she will have an immediate impact.
If nothing else, her addition should eat into Starks’ time and that doesn’t even consider the emergence of Chiamaka Nwokolo (a middle blocker and rightside hitter), who was somewhat of a surprise All-American Honorable Mention for Pitt last season. The Panthers also have 6’5” redshirt freshman Anastasia Russ in the middle. While time is on her side as the one with the most remaining eligibility, Gray’s addition will seemingly make it harder for her to get onto the court next season, even in a reserve fashion. Pitt will have some interesting rotation decisions coming this fall assuming everyone stays.
Whatever this means for playing time for the four, we know that Gray’s addition makes Pitt’s front line that much more formidable.