Weekend Sports: Volleyball notches two ACC wins to stay unbeaten


Thomas J. Yang

Junior middle hitter Layne Van Buskirk (7) attacks the ball during the second set of Pitt’s 3-0 victory over Notre Dame Friday evening. (Photo by Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor)

By Stephen Thompson, Staff Writer

While Pitt football took a break this weekend, the University’s other teams were active as ever with five Panther squads in action. The volleyball team headlined the weekend with two record-breaking games for attendance, along with a fourth-set comeback against No. 21 Louisville to seal their 22nd straight victory.

Women’s Volleyball

Pitt volleyball continued its historic season over the weekend with wins against ACC rivals Notre Dame and No. 21 Louisville 3-0 and 3-1, respectively. The two wins improved the No. 6 Panthers’ record to 22-0.

The Panthers handled Notre Dame easily Friday night, winning in straight sets. Junior Nika Markovic led in kills with 14 and was one of three Panthers to finish with double-digits in that category. Pitt put forth a dominant defensive effort, holding Notre Dame to a .140 hitting percentage.  

Most notably, a crowd of 2,011 people made up the highest attendance to ever watch Pitt volleyball in the Fitzgerald Field House that evening — a record that stood for all of about 40 hours.

On Sunday afternoon, another record crowd of 2,152 filled the Field House to watch two teams unbeaten in ACC play square off.

The electrifying match lived up to the hype of a top-25 matchup. It featured four sets all decided by fewer than five points and a hectic Panther rally in the fourth set.

Pitt won the first two sets, 25-22 and 26-24, despite facing a combined 11 lead changes and 21 tied scores. They dropped the third set 28-26 and seemed on the verge of blowing a 2-0 lead in the fourth set, going down 16-6. With their backs against the wall, the Panthers chipped away at the deficit and ultimately went on a 15-1 run to win 25-20, therefore winning the match in four sets.

Redshirt junior Stephanie Williams paced the Panthers with 17 kills and redshirt sophomore Kylee Levers tallied 23 assists to lead Pitt on the day.

Next weekend, the Panthers will go on the road to face Wake Forest and Duke.

Men’s Soccer

Pitt traveled to Durham, North Carolina, to take on the No. 14 Duke Blue Devils Friday night. The high-powered Duke offense scored twice in the first 15 minutes and added one more before halftime, putting the game out of hand early. The Panthers were unable to overcome the Blue Devils’ first-half blitz and ended up losing 3-1.

Sophomore forward Edward Kizza continued his outstanding second season at Pitt, notching his team-leading 13th goal of the season off of an assist from first-year midfielder Rodrigo Almeida in the 58th minute. No other Pitt player has more than four goals.

Pitt gained some momentum after Kizza’s goal, but the Panthers gave it right back when Kizza earned a red card in the 67th minute. The Panthers were forced to play a man down for the rest of the match and were not able to overcome the disadvantage.

The Panthers outshot the Blue Devils 9-8, but only one shot was on goal. Pitt also committed twice as many penalties as the Blue Devils, outnumbering their miscues 20-10.

The Panthers fell to 7-8 on the season, with six losses against ranked opponents. The Blue Devils improved to 9-4-1 and 4-2 in ACC play.

Pitt is next in action Tuesday night in Morgantown to take on West Virginia.


For the first time since last June, Pitt baseball faced another Division I team, the Youngstown State Penguins, in the second game of their fall-ball schedule. The Panthers won 7-3, powered by a five-run second inning.

In a complete effort by the Pitt pitching staff, nine different arms took the mound for first-year head coach Mike Bell. First-year Billy Corcoran started for the Panthers and allowed no runs in his inaugural college appearance. Fellow first-year Brady Devereux also turned in a scoreless inning and struck out two.

Pitt’s youth came up big at the plate as well. First-year first baseman Kris Soto laced a two-run double into left center field to score the game’s first two runs, and later in the inning first-year outfielder Kyle Hess picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly.

The Panther offense displayed good plate discipline as well, drawing eight walks and capitalizing on the Penguins’ mistakes.

Pitt will conclude its fall exhibition slate on Oct. 26 against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Swimming and Diving

The swimming and diving teams travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to compete with the nationally ranked University of Virginia on Saturday. The women’s team lost 172.5-122.5 to the No. 10 Cavaliers, while the men’s team fell 180.5-114.5 to the No. 15 Cavaliers.

Despite the defeats, the Pitt men and women posted strong performances and combined to win seven events.

The highlight of the women’s events was junior Valerie Daigneault, who remained perfect on the season by taking first in all three of her events — the 100 back, the 200 back and the 100 IM. Daigneault has won all nine races she’s swam so far this season.

Junior Sarah Giamber also gained a win for the Panthers by taking first in a tight race for the 1,000 freestyle.

On the men’s side, junior Samy Helmbacher took home two first-place finishes, in the 200 free and the 200 IM. Sophomore Blaise Vera also claimed a victory by posting a career-best time of 20.33 seconds in the 50 free.

Head coach John Hargis highlighted his team’s improvement from two years ago, when the Panthers struggled mightily against the Cavaliers.

The Panthers will take a week off before they travel to South Bend, Indiana, for a tri-meet with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.

Women’s Soccer

Pitt women’s soccer completed the home portion of its 2018 schedule Sunday afternoon against Notre Dame, losing 2-0 on their senior day.

Seniors Clare Beahn, Alli Higgs, Ashley Moreira, Taylor Pryce, Mikayla Schmidt and Bel van Noorden, along with manager Ian Troost, were all honored prior to the match.  

The Panthers had no shortage of opportunities, taking 14 shots in the game — their most in ACC play all season — including six shots on goal, but were unable to convert on any of their chances.

Pitt matched up statistically with the Fighting Irish, recording six shots on goal to their seven and five corner kicks to their six — but Notre Dame capitalized on its scoring opportunities while the Panthers did not.

Pitt women’s soccer will end its regular season play Thursday night on the road at Boston College.