Not just football: volleyball, cross country, soccer compete over weekend

Sophomore Nika Markovic led the Panthers to victory on Friday against St. Louis with eight kills, three aces, and five blocks. (The Pitt News File Photo)

Sophomore Nika Markovic led the Panthers to victory on Friday against St. Louis with eight kills, three aces, and five blocks. (The Pitt News File Photo)

By David Leftwich | Senior Staff Writer

While most Panther fans focused on the football team’s 33-14 loss to Penn State Saturday, Sept. 9, four other Pitt sports teams were in action this weekend.

The women’s soccer team and the men’s soccer team suffered close defeats while the women’s cross country team and the volleyball team competed with mixed results.


Women’s Cross Country

Opening up the weekend of action, the women’s cross country team travelled up to Penn State Friday for the Spiked Shoe College Women’s 6k.

Senior Kelly Hayes led the Panthers, finishing the course in 21:17 and placing third overall. Senior Joslin Sellers also cracked the top 20 with a time of 22:04 to place 19th.

Looking to the team results, the Panthers ended up winning three of their six matchups against opposing schools. They defeated West Virginia, Edinboro and Bucknell, but lost to Penn State, Georgetown and Syracuse. They finished fourth overall for the day.

The team will travel to Amherst, New York, Friday to take part in the University of Buffalo’s Stampede Invitational.


Women’s Volleyball

The volleyball team also hit the road this weekend as they traveled to Kentucky to take part in the Western Kentucky Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational.

In their first match on Friday against St. Louis, the Panthers made quick work of the Billikens, winning 3-0.

The Panthers didn’t have an overwhelming offensive day — hitting only 35 kills — but they capitalized on a whopping 19 Billiken errors to control the match. Sophomore Nika Markovic led the Panthers with eight kills while contributing in all other areas of the floor with three aces and five blocks.

Continuing her strong play, Markovic and her 23 kills carried the Panthers on Saturday in their match against Western Kentucky.

After taking the first set 25-23, the Panthers dropped the next two sets 25-14 and 25-22, respectively. Bouncing back, the Panthers won a tight fourth set 26-24, but in the deciding fifth set, the Panthers lost 15-10 to lose the match 3-2.

Seven errors undermined the Panther’s efforts in the fifth set and allowed Western Kentucky to separate themselves and win the set by five.

“Every game has a different story and tonight’s was that it was a tough environment to play in,” head coach Dan Fisher said. “WKU is a tough team and there’s a reason why they are in the tournament every year.”

Later that day, the Panthers rebounded and beat East Tennessee State 3-1. After quickly taking a two set lead, the Bucs got on the board and took the third set 25-21. Unable to sustain their strong play, the Bucs hit eight errors, allowing the Panthers to easily win the fourth set 25-16 and the match 3-1.

Finishing the Invitational with a 2-1 record, the Panthers are headed home next weekend to host the Panther Challenge at the Fitzgerald Field House.


Men’s Soccer

Looking to the men’s soccer team, who opened up ACC play against No. 10 North Carolina this Saturday at the Ambrose Urbanic Field.

Grabbing an early lead, the Tar Heels scored in the 11th minute off a cross from the left side of the field. Freshman Edward Kizza scored 20 minutes later for the Panthers to tie up the game at one goal each.

After the Tar Heels reclaimed the lead in the 52nd minute, the two teams went back and forth with surges of offensive activity. In the final 10 minutes of the match, the Panthers ramped up the pressure, recording three shots and a corner kick, but couldn’t finish and lost the match 2-1.

The Panthers successfully maintained possession in the Tar Heels’ part of the field during the match, forcing a season-high eight corner kicks. Despite many opportunities, the Panthers were unable to capitalize and get on the board in the second half.

Next Saturday, the men’s soccer team will look to capture their first ACC win of the season as they travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on Wake Forest.


Women’s Soccer

Last to compete this weekend, the women’s soccer team traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on Nebraska Sunday afternoon.

In a lopsided 3-0 win, the Cornhuskers put the Panthers away in the first half with three quick goals.

After pinning the ball in the Panther’s end with two consecutive corner kicks, the Cornhuskers got on the board with a goal in the 14th minute. Exactly one minute later, the Cornhuskers added another goal from thirty yards out to grab a 2-0 lead.

To put the match out of reach, the Cornhuskers added on with a header off of a chip to take a 3-0 lead in the 33rd minute. From this point, the two sides went back and forth, but the score remained unchanged, and the Panthers suffered a 3-0 defeat.

The Panthers were unable to get their offense going to match the Cornhuskers’ output, only compiling seven shots and one corner kick for the match compared to 21 shots and 5 corners for Nebraska.   

The team opens up ACC competition next Friday as they join the men’s team in Winston-Salem, North Carolina as they take on Wake Forest.

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