Weekend Sports: Volleyball clinches second straight ACC title


Kaycee Orwig | Staff Photographer

Sophomore Nika Markovic celebrates with teammates during the team’s Sept. 30 victory against Florida State.

By Kate Hall, For the Pitt News

It was a triumphant weekend for Pitt Athletics, as all teams found success both home and away. Records were broken and ACC Championships were clinched, showing a promising future for the programs heading into the winter seasons.


No. 10 Pitt volleyball won at least a share of its second consecutive ACC title Friday night in Tallahassee, downing Florida State three sets to one. Against Miami Sunday, the Panthers would win the championship outright — unlike last year, when they tied as co-champions with Louisville — with a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes.

After taking the first set, Pitt (27-1 overall, 15-1 ACC) squeezed past Florida State (17-9 overall, 13-3 ACC) in the second set by a score of 25-21. In the third set, the Seminoles came out strong with an 8-2 lead over the Panthers. The Panthers made a comeback effort after being down 19-10 to cut the Seminoles lead to four, but the surge was not enough after a kill by redshirt senior Ashley Murray led the Seminoles to a set victory.

The Panthers bounced back in the fourth set with a 10-0 run, eventually winning by six points, 25-19, to earn the match victory.

After downing the Seminoles Pitt traveled further south and finished its away schedule with a close win over Miami Sunday afternoon.

The Hurricanes came out strong in the first set with a comfortable 21-13 lead. The Panthers would threaten late, but Miami ultimately held them off to take the first set.

Pitt flipped a switch in the second set with a 5-0 run to go up 10-5 early on. A big kill by junior Layne Van Buskirk eventually secured a 25-17 set win for the Panthers, tying the match score at one apiece. Pitt took the third set 25-22, but Miami bested them 26-24 in a nail-biting fourth set that featured multiple lead changes.

With the match score tied at 2-2, the prospect of an outright ACC title fueled Pitt to victory and the Panthers persevered to win the fifth tiebreaking set 15-13.

The Panthers will close out their regular season with a home game against Georgia Tech Wednesday, Nov. 21, before beginning the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament.

Swimming and Diving

Pitt’s swimming and diving programs had a stellar showing at the Ohio State Invitational meet over the weekend, establishing eight Pitt records while competing against some of the nation’s top programs.

Sophomore Blaise Vera broke two 17-year-old records at the Invitational. Vera’s 19.66-second finish in the 50-yard freestyle earned him a school record and a gold finish. He went on to lower the school record in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 43.18 and a fourth-place finish, then helped the men’s 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relay establish new records of 1:28.86 and 2:53.55, respectively, as well.

Pitt broke four more records at the invitational in individual events. For the women’s platform dive, first-year Amy Read had a breakout performance in her first appearance in the event. Read placed third and beat Pitt’s three-year standing record with a score of 245.35.

Juniors Samy Helmbacher, Valerie Daigneault and Madelyn Shaffer set their own Pitt records. Helmbacher’s came in the 200-yard individual medley and finished second with a time of 1:44.79. Shaffer broke her school record in the 200-yard butterfly with a 13th-place finish and a time of 1:58.42, making her the only woman in Pitt history to ever break the two-minute mark. Meanwhile, Daigneault continued her impressive season by besting her own 200-yard backstroke record with a time of 1:54:25.

Overall, the men’s team finished fourth out of eight teams with 1,513.5 points while the women’s team ranked sixth out of 12 with 953.5 points.

Pitt’s next test is a home match against West Virginia in the aquatic edition of the Backyard Brawl Jan. 5.

Cross Country

Junior Sam Shields competed in the NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships at Wisconsin University Saturday. The lone Pitt representative at the national competition, Shields finished the 6K race in 21:15.6 and in 122nd place — the third-best finish by a Panther at the event.

The Championships closed out the cross country season. Pitt will migrate indoors to prep for the track and field season, which starts Dec.1 with the Blue and Gold meet.

Women’s Basketball

Pitt women’s basketball won its second game of the season, 65-48, against Cincinnati at home Friday night. Redshirt senior Aysia Bugg led the team offensively with 23 points — a career high. Junior Jasmine Whitney also topped the leaderboard with a team-high five assists.

The Panthers controlled the game, outscoring the Bearcats in most major categories including field goals made, 3-pointers, free throws, rebounds and blocks.

The Panthers will gear up for their first road game of the season against Georgetown Monday, Nov. 19.


Pitt wrestling upset No. 14 Northern Iowa Saturday at the Fitzgerald Field House, moving to 2-0 on the young season.

Northern Iowa took the first lead of the duel after Pitt first-year Brendon Fenton was pinned, making the score 6-0. Redshirt freshman Micky Phillipi put Pitt on the board with a pin of his own, tying the match 6-6.

Later in the duel, Northern Iowa managed to force a 19-15 lead, setting up a heavyweight match to determine the victor of the entire contest. Pitt Junior Demetrius Thomas scored two takedowns in the final period, leading the Panthers to a 21-19 win.

The team will next head to Nevada for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas invite from Nov. 30 to Dec.1.