With two matches this past weekend, the Pittsburgh Panthers volleyball team has extended its win streak while remaining undefeated in the ACC. Also released this week was the second and final NCAA committee rankings of the season (think college football playoff rankings) in which Pitt is sitting fourth in the nation. This set of rankings seems to favor the Panthers a little more than the weekly AVCA poll, in which Pitt was sitting at seven in its most recent release.
WAKE FOREST MATCH RECAP:
The first leg of a weekend road trip took the Panthers down to Winston-Salem North Carolina for a matchup with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Pitt started hot and never gave the Deacons a chance, sweeping them 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-19). Outside of a small stretch early in the third set, the Panthers were in full control, as Wake Forest led for a grand total of a single point through the first two sets. The formula for success followed the same general pattern as past matches; stifling defense leading to errors, a great block at the net, and the offensive firepower that is Courtney Buzzerio, Serena Grey, and Valeria Vasquez Gomez.
Buzzerio’s 15 points on the day were tops in the match, despite a lower-than-normal .231 hitting percentage. Where Buzzerio excelled in quantity of offense, Gray, Vasquez Gomez, and freshman Rachel Jepsen excelled in quality. All three had at least five kills while posting hitting percentages at .500+. As a unit, the Panthers hit for a .287 hitting percentage on the match while limiting their ACC foes to a 0.73 percentage.
PITT STAT LEADERS:
KILLS: Courtney Buzzerio (10)
BLOCKS: Serena Gray (4)
ASSISTS: Rachel Fairbanks (23)
DIGS: Rachel Fairbanks (9)
VIRGINIA TECH MATCH RECAP:
Following the Panthers’ sweep, the road trip continued north to Blacksburg for a matchup with Virginia Tech. Tech came into this matchup on an eight-match losing streak; which, when paired with the Panthers’ 14-match winning streak, produces a recipe for a very one-sided affair.
That’s exactly what we got. The Panthers flat-out demolished the Hokies, sweeping them 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-17) Pitt put up their most dominant defensive performance in program history in terms of opponent hitting percentage, as the Hokies hit a shocking -.037%, per Pitt sports information.
This match ended Buzzerio’s streak of leading the Panthers in kills, as Julianna Dalton and Serena Gray tied for the team lead with eight. Dalton would lead the team in points at 10.5 as well, an intriguing sign following a not-so-stellar offensive performance against Wake Forest.
The offensive output was a little more spread out than what we’ve come to expect this season, with Chiamaka Nwokolo and Sabrina Starks each posting five kills on a .400+ hitting percentage. Blocks were also a strong theme throughout the match for the Panthers. With 10 blocks as a team, the Panthers gave Virginia Tech no offensive opportunity to produce an upset.
PITT STAT LEADERS:
KILLS: Serena Gray, Julianna Dalton (8)
BLOCKS: Serena Gray, Chiamaka Nwokolo (4)
ASSISTS: Rachel Fairbanks (24)
DIGS: Emmy Klika (13)
WHAT IS NEXT:
Pitt remains on the road for another weekend, with Syracuse on Friday (Nov 4) and a trip to Chestnut Hill on Sunday (Nov 6). On the other side of these two matches as well as a home match against Syracuse is back-to-back matchups with top-10 teams Louisville and Georgia Tech.