After grabbing its biggest win of the season against No. 8 North Carolina a week ago, the Pitt volleyball team surged forward with road victories against Clemson and Georgia Tech this weekend.
The first matchup for the Panthers (19-7 overall, 10-4 ACC) was Friday in Clemson, South Carolina, against the Tigers (6-19 overall, 1-12 ACC). The team then traveled to Atlanta to beat the Yellow Jackets (20-6 overall, 11-3 ACC).
Pitt started the first set with 18 kills and jumped out to a 4-0 advantage over the Yellow Jackets. This lead expanded throughout the set and eventually ballooned to 10 points before concluding the set at 25-15.
In the second set, the Panther offense wasn’t as sharp, hitting two fewer kills and four more errors, but they managed to maintain control. At an 9-8 deficit, the Panthers finally found some separation from the Tigers when they took the next five points to grab a 13-9 lead.
While this lead held throughout the set, Clemson made a late push to bring the score to 20-18. From there, Pitt won the next four points, with senior Jenna Potts finishing off two of those with kills. Eventually, the Panthers easily took the second set 25-20.
The Panthers grabbed an early lead in the third and final set at 9-5 and never faltered, eventually taking the set against the Tigers.
Redshirt freshman Stephanie Williams exploded and hit half of her 14 total kills in the match to help the Panthers maintain a sizeable lead. This strong play helped the Panthers take the third set 25-20 and the match 3-0 to notch another ACC victory.
On Sunday, the Panthers took on Georgia Tech, where they had to work harder to clinch another weekend victory.
The first set started off evenly, with the Panthers taking a 7-6 deficit. Pitt won the next five points to create a four-point advantage 11-7, but Georgia Tech immediately erased the lead and won six of the next eight points to tie the match at 13.
After regaining the lead and winning the next three points to push the score to 16-13, the Panthers ended up taking the set 25-22.
The second set continued with neither Pitt not Georgia Tech gaining a decisive advantage, as both teams made their way to a 15-15 tie. The Panthers won the next five points to pull ahead 20-15 and ultimately put the set out of reach, cruising to an easy 25-18 win.
Georgia Tech didn’t go down easily and bounced back in the third set.
Both teams settled at another tie, this time at 11, but Georgia Tech went on a run, taking six out of the next seven points for a commanding 17-12 lead.
While the Yellow Jackets kept the lead, the Panther slowly chipped away and found themselves within two points at 24-22, only to lose the next point and the set 25-22.
In the closest set of the match, it took an extended fourth set to settle the match between the Panthers and Yellow Jackets.
Gaining an early edge, the Panthers came out and took an 11-8 lead. Maintaining this advantage throughout the set, a well-balanced attack from Pitt widened the gap to 24-19.
Sloppy play by the Panthers, including four attack errors during a five-point stretch, allowed Georgia Tech to claim the next five points and tie the match at 24. Regaining some composure, Pitt scored the next two points to take the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.
Highlighting the attack for the Panthers was Williams, who hit 22 kills in the last game, and Potts, who tallied five blocks to become the Panthers’ all-time leader in blocks at 541 for her career.
“I’m very pleased with how we competed today and how we stayed in the moment,” head coach Dan Fisher said in a press release about the Georgia Tech match. “[O’Keefe Gymnasium is] a tough place to play. The environment is really loud, and we handled it really well.”
With only six matches left in the regular season, the Panthers are No. 30 on the NCAA Rating Percentage Index.
The volleyball team will come home to face Wake Forest at the Fitzgerald Field House Saturday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.