Weekend Sports Recap: Potent Panthers volleyball rolls through California tournament


Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor

Sophomore midfielder Jackson Walti yells to rally his teammates after the Panthers made multiple attempts on No. 1 Wake Forest’s goal during Pitt’s 2-0 loss to the Demon Deacons.

By Griffin Floyd, Staff Writer

It was a tale of two sports this weekend in Pitt athletics: Volleyball continued its undefeated 2019 with three wins this past weekend in California, but rebuilding soccer programs were unable to find the same success. 

Lund stars, streak continues

Pitt volleyball had a busy road schedule in the Pepperdine ASICS Classic in Malibu, California, beginning with a match against the California Polytechnic University Mustangs this past Friday.

Junior Kayla Lund again stuffed the stat sheet with 20 kills, 14 digs and three assists, even contributing an ace for good measure. Senior Layne Van Buskirk continued her strong two-way play with 18 kills and 6 blocks, and true freshman Lexis Akeo had a staggering 58 assists against the outclassed Mustangs, whom the Panthers beat handily 3-1 by scores of 25-17, 27-25 and 25-17.

The next day Pitt faced No. 16 Utah in a tightly contested top-25 matchup. The largest margin of victory was the final frame, which Pitt won 25-21 to secure a three-sets-to-one victory. Lund and Van Buskirk again paced the Panthers with 19 and 15 kills, respectively, and redshirt senior Stephanie Williams played a strong game in support with 10 kills and 17 digs.

In their final match of the weekend, Pepperdine would give the Panthers their toughest match of the tournament.

Fatigued from the first half of their doubleheader, the Panthers fell into an early 2-1 set hole before staving off elimination in the fourth set, 25-18, and eventually closing the game out the victory with a 16-14 finish. Junior Chinaza Ndee was outstanding with 22 kills and Lund again starred with 16 kills and 21 digs.

The sixth-ranked Panthers move to 11-0 on the season and will try to further their undefeated streak in a home-and-home series against rival Penn State next weekend. The first match will be on Friday at 8 p.m. in University Park. Sunday’s match is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

Wake up call?

Pitt men’s soccer played only one game this weekend, but it was a tall task — the Panthers welcomed No. 1 Wake Forest for their ACC home-opener on Friday night. The Panthers lost 2-0 but stayed competitive, matching the Demon Deacons with 4 shots on goal, all expertly turned aside by the redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg.

Star junior Edward Kizza had three shots, but none of them were on the net as he was run out of room by the Wake Forest defense.

The Panthers now stand at 1-3-1 on the season and have one last warmup chance against Akron on Monday, Sept. 16, before picking up ACC play against Boston College on Sept. 20. Kickoff against Akron is slated for 7 p.m. from Ambrose Urbanic Field.

Women’s soccer flames out in second half

The women’s soccer team suffered a tough loss against the Liberty Flames on Sunday despite registering twice as many shots on goal as their opponents (6-3). After pitching a shutout in the first half, redshirt junior goalkeeper Amaia Pena was solved five minutes into the second half by Liberty senior forward Gabrielle Farrell. The Flames junior goalkeeper, Melody Jayroe, who kept them in it in the first half with four saves, was able to keep the Panthers off the board for a 1-0 victory.

After losing back-to-back games the Panthers’ record sits at 3-4-1. In their next match, they begin ACC play on Thursday, Sept. 20, against Syracuse from Pittsburgh. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.