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Pitt volleyball team sweeps Morehead State and Marshall in Comfort Inn-vitational

Matt Hawley

The No. 4 Pitt volleyball team traveled to Morehead, Kentucky, for the Comfort Inn-vitational this weekend and took on Marshall and Morehead State, and the result was back-to-back sweeps that kept Pitt undefeated.

Pitt faced Marshall at Johnson Arena on Friday and didn’t get much of a fight out of the Conference USA team until the third set. Needless to say, the first two went to the Panthers, who bullied the Thundering Herd for 25-10 and 25-13 set wins.

During the first set, Pitt simply dominated Marshall, posting 17 kills and allowing only four. In fact, Pitt middle blocker Sabrina Starks recorded more kills than the entire Thundering Herd in the opening set, as she had five to their four. That dominant play continued in the second set, albeit after a slow start that saw Pitt fall behind 5-4. However, a 6-0 run with two kills by Pitt outside hitter Kayla Lund and a service ace by Pitt setter Kylee Levers made it 17-9. And after some back-and-forth play, the Panthers would close out the set with a 5-0 run that included three kills by Pitt outside hitter Jordan Lockwood. The final set saw Pitt take a 14-8 lead, but Marshall fought back to make it 24-20. However, the Herd’s efforts would be too little, too late, as Pitt middle blocker Serena Gray came up with a block to win the set 25-20 and complete the 3-0 sweep.

Reigning ACC Player of the Week Chinaza Ndee led Pitt with 11 kills in the match, while Kylee Levers recorded her fifth double-double of the season, with 21 assists and 17 digs.

Pitt would follow up its sweep of Marshall with a showdown with Morehead State on Saturday, and the match would prove a bit more competitive despite coming to the same conclusion after three sets, which Pitt won 25-17, 25-12 and 25-16.

The Panthers shot out to a 15-8 lead over the Eagles in the first set, and that seemed to light a fire under the Eagles, who fought back to within five, making it 21-16. But Pitt would take the first set after a 4-1 run that ended with a kill by Pitt middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo. The second set saw the Panthers steamroll the Eagles, as they built a 9-2 lead and improved it to 21-10 before eventually ending the set on a 3-0 run with two straight kills by Jordan Lockwood. And in the final set, Morehead State once again fell behind early before fighting back late and pulling within five points. But the Panthers overwhelmed the Eagles again, ending the set on a 7-5 run. And once again, it was Jordan Lockwood who came up with the kill to win the set and secure the sweep.

With the two wins at the Comfort Inn-vitational, the Panthers improved to 10-0 on the season and gave themselves a final tuneup before the start of ACC play. The team’s conference slate is up next, and Pitt’s first ACC matchup is with North Carolina. That match is set to get underway next Friday at 6 p.m. ET at Carmichael Arena in Chapel Hill.