Panther Spotlight: Kizza, Lund will build on stunning seasons

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Panther Spotlight: Kizza, Lund will build on stunning seasons

Redshirt sophomore Deslin Alexandre (5) will play as a defensive lineman this season after junior Rashad Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury during training camp.

Redshirt sophomore Deslin Alexandre (5) will play as a defensive lineman this season after junior Rashad Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury during training camp.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Redshirt sophomore Deslin Alexandre (5) will play as a defensive lineman this season after junior Rashad Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury during training camp.

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Redshirt sophomore Deslin Alexandre (5) will play as a defensive lineman this season after junior Rashad Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury during training camp.

By Kyle Saxon, for The Pitt News

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Edward Kizza: men’s soccer

Pitt men’s soccer has not seen tremendous success in recent years, but make no mistake –– they’ve had a fair share of standouts make their way through the program, and junior forward Edward Kizza is one of them.

As a sophomore, Kizza took the ACC by storm. He led the conference with 15 goals scored, a shot accuracy percentage of 62.2% and 30 points. His signature performance was in the ACC tournament against Virginia –– a match in which he scored both of Pitt’s goals in a 2-0 victory, the team’s first ACC tournament win in program history.

Pitt traveled to Bloomington, Indiana this weekend for a pair of season opening matches. The Panthers dropped both contests — first to No. 2 ranked Indiana in a 3-2 overtime thriller, followed by a 1-0 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats.

Against the No. 2 team in the nation, Kizza opened the scoring with a goal in the 36th minute. Within seconds, he buried a header into the bottom left off of a corner kick for his second score of the game. The Hoosiers went on to win in extra time, but Kizza’s knack for the back of the net was still on full display.

The Panthers may be off to a winless start, but Edward Kizza has continued his stellar play. The 2018 All-ACC First Teamer appears to have improved on his 2018 season, making him a constant threat for opponents in 2019. If Kizza continues at the pace he set this weekend, a record-breaking season may be in store for him.

 

Kayla Lund: volleyball

Pitt volleyball opened their 2019 slate with three dominant wins this past weekend. The Panthers returned much of their star power from last year’s team, and are favored to win the ACC conference for the third straight season.

Of the standout performers for Pitt, perhaps the most notable was junior Kayla Lund.

The 2018 First Team All-ACC selection picked up exactly where she left off last season, recording 29 kills, 21 digs, three service aces and 33 total points across Pitt’s three matches.

Lund continues to display her most impressive and valuable quality on the court –– versatility. In 2018, she led the team in kills, aces and double-doubles, a combination of kills and digs. This past weekend, she paced the team in kills and digs. Her wide-ranging arsenal of skills makes her the team’s most integral member.

 

The outside hitter certainly needed a strong showing to start out the season, as she suffered a leg injury in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. This largely contributed to Pitt’s second round tournament exit, and surely gave Lund extra motivation coming into the year.

Pitt’s 2018 breakout superstar will look to build on an already phenomenal career. The 6-foot tall Lund is set to anchor the Pitt team with ACC and National title hopes in 2019. Judging by her stellar first weekend, Lund’s third season with the Panthers is bound to be special.

 

Deslin Alexandre: football

This August, star junior defensive end Rashad Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury during training camp. Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi had a choice –– to alter his defensive scheme completely, or to trust his personnel. He decided upon the latter and after just one game, it appears he made the right choice.

Deslin Alexandre’s name entered into the spotlight when Pat Narduzzi released the depth chart ahead of the season opener vs. Virginia. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound sophomore never saw a starting role last year, though he did play in 13 games. This season he faces a much taller task –– filling the void of Pitt’s best defensive lineman.

Alexandre stood out Saturday, and in a good way. He recorded the first sack of his Pitt career when he buried Bryce Perkins late in the first quarter. He had an additional tackle for loss and finished second on the team with six total tackles. His persistence rushing the passer did not go unnoticed.

Looking toward the rest of the season, Alexandre’s solid play must continue for Pitt to succeed. The Panthers looked solid on defense for a large part of Saturday’s game, but failed to force turnovers and fell apart towards the close. The staff and program as a whole seem confident in Alexandre’s ability. He has the potential to become just what the team could use –– a high-impact player.

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