With only four games remaining in the season, the Pitt volleyball team picked up two more wins on the road, bringing them one step closer to solidifying a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
On Friday, in the first match of the weekend, the Panthers (21-8 overall, ACC 12-5) squared off against the Syracuse Orange (7-20 overall, ACC 6-11) at Syracuse, New York, before traveling to Boston College (8-20 overall, 3-15 ACC) on Sunday.
To start the first set against the Orange, Pitt faced an early 7-2 deficit. Quickly making up for this, Pitt won six out of the next seven points to tie up the set at eight.
Moving along in the set, the teams remained close with neither team surpassing more than a two-point advantage.
At a 22-22 tie, Pitt won three out of the next four points to grab a narrow 25-23 set win and take a 1-0 match lead.
The second set remained close and made its way to a tie at eight before Pitt won four straight points to take a 12-8 lead. Syracuse responded by getting the next five points to gain a 13-12 advantage.
The teams went back and forth until Syracuse reached a 19-18 lead. From there, Pitt took the following six points to take the set 25-19. Redshirt freshman Stephanie Williams won two out the last three points on service aces to propel the Panthers to victory.
Regaining momentum, Syracuse came out to start the third set with a 7-4 lead. Never losing the lead from that point, the Orange capitalized on the sloppiest Pitt offense of the match, complete with a .170 attack percentage, to take the set 25-22.
In the fourth set of the match, Pitt continued its mediocre play, but Syracuse’s offensive play deteriorated, helping the Panthers gain an advantage. Jumping out to a 10-6 lead, Pitt forced Syracuse into a timeout.
Working their way back into the set, the Orange stayed within one or two points of the Panthers, until the Orange were ahead 21-19. Flipping the momentum, the Panthers took six of the next seven points to finish the set 25-22 and the match 3-1.
Leading the way for the Panthers was Williams, freshman Nika Markovic — with 15 kills each — and junior Mariah Bell with 12 kills.
“At this point in the season, we are talking a lot about how it doesn’t matter who gets the point as long as the team gets the point,” head coach Dan Fisher said in a press release Friday. ”It seemed like we were doing that tonight and that we were really pulling for each other.”
The second match of the weekend took place on Sunday at Boston College, where the Panthers put on a dominant offensive performance to gain an easy 3-0 match victory.
In the first and most competitive set of the match, Pitt came out and surged to an early 10-4 lead. Boston College remained at a deficit for the majority of the set but worked their way back into the match, eventually cutting the deficit to 19-17.
At this point, the Panthers and Eagles traded points until Pitt took the set 25-22. Markovic led the attack for the Panthers, tallying seven kills out of the 19 total made by the team in the set.
In the second set, after the Panthers gained an early 11-6 margin, they widened the lead until taking the set 25-15. They continued to play efficiently on offense, hitting 18 kills at a whopping .459 attack percentage, compared to the nine kills made by the Eagles.
While the offensive output by Pitt dipped in the third set, Boston College’s careless play allowed the Panthers to continue their dominance on the court.
After being held at a 7-6 deficit, Pitt exploded to win the next 12 points and capture a 18-7 lead. Without any major significant obstacles to face, Pitt won the third and final set 25-16 and the match 3-0.
Markovic, Williams and Bell led the Panthers once again with 15, 13 and nine kills, respectively.
“I’m pleased that we [got] the result we needed,” Fisher said in a press release Sunday. “Today was maybe our best offensive game this year. It’s the first time I can remember three pin-hitters hitting .400 since I’ve been at Pitt.”
The Panthers move into their last week of regular season play facing off against Virginia Tech Wednesday at the Fitzgerald Field House at 7 p.m.