Pitt volleyball stays hot with 3-1 win at Virginia Tech


Senior Jenna Potts clinched Pitt’s win at Virginia Tech with a match-ending block. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By David Leftwich | Staff Writer

Whether it’s the unfamiliar arena or the heckling fans, playing on the road in any sport can be difficult. But the Pitt volleyball team settled right in Wednesday night with a victory in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Pitt (12-3 overall, 3-0 ACC) began its second week of conference play by cruising to a 3-1 match victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies (6-8 overall, 1-2 ACC). The teams split the first two sets, then the Panthers took command in the third and fourth sets to close out the match.

The Hokies struggled to create any offense in the early going, and Pitt took advantage, jumping out to a 7-2 lead.

After a brief run by Virginia Tech, the Panthers won eight points in a row to stretch the lead from 13-11 to 21-11. The Hokies broke down defensively, and Pitt repeatedly took advantage to easily take the first set, 25-12.

After getting dominated in the first set, Virginia Tech bounced back and put together some solid offensive play. With the second set tied at eight, the Hokies went on a run similar to the Panthers’ streak in the first set, racking up six straight points to go up 14-8.

The Panthers tried to chip away at the lead, but couldn’t close the gap as Virginia Tech continued to build its lead and took the set by a score of 25-18.

Pitt seemed disjointed in the third set, starting out strong before running into some errors and communication mishaps that kept the match close. Pitt built an early 9-7 advantage but the Hokies kept attacking, never allowing the Panthers to gain much momentum.

With the set tied at 11, Pitt started struggling with its serve-receive. The Panthers were out of position on Virginia Tech’s serves, forcing them to either make an error or pass the ball back over the net rather than attack offensively.

Pitt head coach Dan Fisher decided to call a timeout with his team trailing, 13-11, but this didn’t shift the momentum. The Hokies kept playing well-balanced volleyball and expanded their lead to 18-13.

The Panthers found themselves down, 23-19, in danger of falling behind 2-1 in the match. But Pitt battled back to take the next three points, which forced Virginia Tech into calling a timeout of its own.

After the timeout, outside hitter Stephanie Williams hit a crucial push shot on a broken play to tie the game at 23 apiece. The Panthers conceded the next point, but Williams came up big with another kill to tie the set at 24.

The teams traded points back-and-forth, both searching for the two-point lead that would end the set. Eventually, Pitt surged to close out the third set, 29-27.

The Panthers carried this momentum over to the next set, taking a quick 6-1 lead. Virginia Tech tried to catch up, but Pitt maintained a solid four- or five-point lead throughout. As good as the Panthers’ offense looked during the set, they maintained great back line play to keep up defense and neutralize the Hokies’ offense.

Virginia Tech’s intensity started to fade midway through the set, and Pitt capitalized. The Panthers pushed the lead to 20-12 and completely shut down the Hokies’ offense along the way.

Senior middle blocker Jenna Potts put the match away with an emphatic block to take the fourth set, 25-16, and clinch a 3-1 match victory. The win was Pitt’s fifth in a row, keeping the team’s perfect ACC record intact at 3-0.

The Panthers will return home to the Fitzgerald Field House to take on the Virginia Cavaliers Sunday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m., in a matinee matchup.