Women’s Volleyball: Panthers win three matches, take home UConn Classic title


By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

The Panthers captured their first tournament title win this past weekend in Storrs, Conn., going 3-0 on their way to winning the UConn Classic over Albany, Northeastern and Connecticut.

Kate Yeazel was named the tournament MVP and Jessica Wynn and Delaney Clesen were named to the All-Tournament Team.

“To actually be the tournament MVP means everything, and it’s just a really big blessing,” Yeazel said.

Pitt (5-2) won three straight sets versus Albany with scores of 25-18, 25-14 and 25-15. But the Panthers started off slow, which forced them to call a timeout once Albany went up 7-5. After the timeout, though, Pitt ran off four straight points. One of sophomore setter Jenna Jacobson’s career-high five aces in that match highlighted that dominating stretch.

“I think serves are really important. It’s the first ball that goes in.” Jacobson said. “If it’s a good serve, you can get them out of system on the other side — then it’ll definitely help win the game.”

Albany was able to tie the score two more times, but never regained the lead. After jumping out to an early 7-3 lead in the second set, Albany came within two points multiple times but never got ahead of the surging Panthers.

The Panthers never trailed in the third set, and their largest lead came at match point when Yeazel and sophomore Jessica Boddy blocked Albany and gave the Panthers the 25-15 victory. Yeazel led the team with 13 kills and tied Boddy with five blocks. Wynn, a junior outside hitter, and junior opposite Mechael Guess chipped in double-digit kills.

Pitt continued its strong performance Saturday versus Northeastern, defeating the Huskies 25-18, 25-16 and 25-15.

The first set was close, but a 10-2 Pitt run separated the two teams. The Panthers were able to capture points thanks to Yeazel and Guess, who together scored 11 of the team’s 12 kills, while redshirt freshman Jenna Potts had four blocks in the opening set.   

Northeastern began to wear down in the second set, committing more and more errors and hitting -.025. The Panthers took advantage of the weaker Northeastern team and hit .273 on their way to a 25-16 win.

The third set resembled the first set between these two teams. Pitt needed a run to help build a lead against the Huskies, who won the first two points. But the Panthers clawed their way back and took a 3-2 lead. Following an 8-2 run, the Panthers strongly held onto their lead with the score at 9-5. During this run, Jacobson served another two aces and the team tallied kills from Wynn, Guess and Yeazel.

Jacobson finished with three aces and her first double-double of the season with 21 assists and 10 digs. Clesen led the team with 15 digs and freshman outside hitter Maria Genitsaridi added 12 digs and four blocks.

The Panthers had their biggest match of the tournament on Saturday night against the host team and their former Big East foe, Connecticut. Pitt bounced back after losing the first set to win three of the next four, ultimately defeating UConn 20-25, 25-17, 25-16, 23-25 and 15-9.

Despite dropping the first set, Pitt gained momentum toward the end and carried it over to the second and third sets. Pitt outhit UConn significantly in these two sets, with Pitt’s .350 mark dwarfing Connecticut’s sub-.100 performance. 

As Pitt entered the fourth set, however, its momentum was drained when the Huskies fought back to earn the win. Pitt came back and tied the score at 23 before a Panthers error and set point allowed Connecticut to win the set.

The fifth set started off strong for Pitt: Yeazel had the first three kills, jump-starting the team to a 4-2 lead. After a block from Potts, Pitt was able to hold a two-point advantage that lasted for most of the set. The Panthers finished off the match by scoring five of the last six points — with two of the last three points registered on kills by Wynn.

Pitt sported a total of nine aces — with Boddy having three of her own — and 16.5 blocks. Potts, who had 10 of those blocks, became the first Panther to hit double figures. Clesen tallied 20 digs, while Yeazel finished the match with 17 kills and seven blocks. Genitsaridi chipped in a personal best 11 kills and 14 digs.

The Panthers will have an opportunity to build on the success from this weekend and nab another competition title when they head to Tampa, Fla., for the University of South Florida Invitational on Sept. 13 and 14.