Team witnesses mixed results over weekend

By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

Pitt volleyball went 2-2 in its first tournament of the season, after competing against three other colleges Friday and Saturday in the Tiger Invitational tournament, held at the University of Missouri’s Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. 

“Four games is a lot in one weekend, but it was a good challenge for us,” head coach Dan Fisher said.

The Panthers won their third consecutive season opener by defeating Arkansas State 3-0 in their first match. The Red Wolves kept the scores close in all three sets, but the Panthers held on to close out the match in three sets, winning 25-19, 25-20 and 25-18. 

Pitt was in control right away after claiming the first six points of the set. The Red Wolves brought the score to 14-12, but they were unable to take the lead. After fighting off four match points, the Panthers finally got the win, 25-19. 

The Panthers had a tougher time winning their next two sets. In both sets, Arkansas State generated an early lead. 

In match two, junior opposite hitter Kate Yeazel had some big hits, but none bigger than when Pitt took its largest lead at 22-17. In the third match, Pitt finished strong on an 8-4 run. 

Junior outside hitter Jessica Wynn led the team with 17 kills, sophomore middle blocker Jessica Boddy had eight kills and four blocks and junior setter Lindsey Zitzke had her first double-double of the season with 18 assists and 14 digs.

The Panthers faced the host of the tournament in their second match of the day. Pitt lost to Missouri 3-1, by scores of 13-25, 25-23, 14-25 and 13-25.

The Panthers struggled early, but came back swinging in set two. There were twelve ties during this match, and neither team held a lead larger than three points. However, the Tigers made a few errors that helped Pitt gain the lead to close out the set. 

Senior outside hitter Monica Wignot had a kill that gave Pitt its largest lead of the night at 23-20. The Tigers took the next two points in the set to pull within one, but thanks to another Wignot kill and an attack error, the Panthers won 25-23. From set one to set two, the Panthers saw their hitting percentage improve from 10 percent to 37.9 percent.

The Tigers regained their momentum in sets three and four by hitting 59.3 percent and 60 percent, respectively. 

Yeazel led the team with 12 kills, Zitzke had 17 assists and sophomore setter Jenna Jacobson had 16 assists. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Jenna Potts had five blocks and junior libero Delaney Clesen had 10 digs.

On day two of the tournament, Pitt once again split its matches.

In the first match of the day, Pitt took on South Dakota. This match took the Panthers four sets to win, as they lost the first set 25-27 but won the next three, 25-15, 25-16 and 25-17. Once again Pitt saw 12 ties in their first match against the Coyotes before falling to a loss.

“I don’t think we played bad the first set, but we lost a couple pivotal points towards the end and kind of lost our momentum,” Yeazel said. 

It wasn’t until set two that the Panthers took control. Pitt began to have timely hits and played great defensively to secure large margins of victory. Yeazel tied her career high in kills with 14, while freshman outside hitter Maria Genitsaridi had 10 kills. Zitzke finished the match with 28 assists. Defensively, Boddy led the team with 6 blocks.

The Panthers’ strong performance hit a roadblock against Idaho State. The Panthers lost all three sets with scores of 25-16, 25-23 and 25-20.

In their first match, the Panthers felt the pain of losing their most lopsided set of the day. The Bengals’ first 5-0 run in the set gave them a 16-14 lead, and their second 5-0 run helped the Bengals come back from a deficit of three to a lead of 24-22. 

Set three was a similar story for the Panthers and the Bengals. A 7-1 run for Idaho State helped the team take the lead from Pitt, and the Bengals never gave it back.

Only once in this match did Pitt hit over 20 percent, and they finished the match hitting 17.2 percent as a team. Wynn added 12 kills to her tournament total, while Yeazel added 8.

Coach Fisher is happy that the Panthers won two games on the road, but admits that his team isn’t at their best yet.

“We’re still figuring out who we are as a team,” Coach Fisher said.