No. 4 Pitt volleyball improves to perfect 8-0 record after Panther challenge


Rachel Dancer | For The Pitt News

No. 4 Pitt Volleyball hosted the Panther Challenge this weekend in the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse, sweeping High Point, No. 12 BYU and Bowling Green to maintain its perfect record.

By Brayden Tinney, for The Pitt News

No. 4 Pitt Volleyball (8-0, 0-0 ACC) hosted the Panther Challenge this weekend in the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse — sweeping High Point (6-4, 0-0 Big South), No. 12 BYU (8-1, 0-0 WCC) and Bowling Green (3-6 overall, 0-0 MAC) to maintain its perfect record. 

Pitt opened the first set against the High Point Panthers on Friday with dominant kills from graduate student outside hitter Kayla Lund and fifth-year right-side hitter Chinaza Ndee, but High Point responded to make the set more competitive. With Pitt’s lack of aces and quick kills, High Point forced Pitt to work for every point. Pitt scored four consecutive points to get to match point and took the set with a score of 25-17. 

The second set began with the momentum in High Point’s favor, as the visiting Panthers took an early lead of 7-4. Then, off of blocks and kills from senior middle blocker Serena Gray, Lund and Ndee as well as two serving aces from graduate student setter Kylee Levers, Pitt scored six consecutive points — taking its first lead of the game. The momentum stayed with Pitt for the remainder of the set. After a kill from Lund initiated the set-point, Pitt secured the 25-17 set victory off a High Point attack error. 

The third set was a tight battle, but Pitt came out victorious with a kill from senior outside hitter Jordan Lockwood and an ace from senior outside hitter Leketor Member-Meneh. With the final 25-23 win, Pitt swept High Point 3-0.

Ndee led the game with 12 kills, followed by Lund with seven and junior middle blocker and right-side hitter Chiamaka Nwokolo with seven. Junior libero and defensive specialist Ashley Browske finished with 16 digs while Levers had 23 assists. 

On Friday night, the Panthers played No. 12 BYU — their only ranked opponent of the weekend. In their fourth contest against a ranked opponent this season, the Panthers won convincingly and passed the biggest hurdle of the weekend in four sets. 

With four aces for Pitt and six service errors for BYU, Pitt took the first set with a score of 25-21. The second set was the only one the Panthers gave up in the Panther challenge. Pitt and BYU tied the score four times during the set, and the Panthers fell short despite two aces from Gray at BYU’s set-point. The Cougars flipped the score and won 25-21. 

The Panthers had 17 kills and won the third set 25-20. At a 24-24 tie, the Panthers ended the battle in the fourth and final set, winning 26-24 with a final kill from Lund and a block at the net from Gray.

The Panthers saved their most dominant performance for their final opponent of the weekend, Bowling Green. Although Pitt fell behind 8-4 in the beginning of the first set, the Panthers took the lead before Bowling Green could hit the 20-point mark and went on to win the set 25-19. Pitt dominated in the last two sets, never once allowing the Falcons to hit 20 points. The Panthers won the third set at 25-17 and ended the Panther Challenge with a kill from Nwokolo, taking the third and final set at a score of 25-16. 

Pitt finished with 44 kills compared to Bowling Green’s 25, led by Ndee with 10 and Gray and Vasquez-Gomez with seven each. Lund and Browske had eight digs each with Levers right behind with seven digs. Gray had four blocks followed by Ndee with three and Lockwood with two. Lund and Levers led the team in aces with two each, and Akeo and Levers led Pitt in assists with 17 and 16, respectively. 

With this win, Pitt advanced to an overall 5-0 record in its history against Bowling Green.

Pitt will look to improve on their undefeated record against Morehead State on Friday in Morehead, Kentucky as a part of the Comfort Inn-vitational. The match will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Leave a comment.