The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Preview | Pitt volleyball gears up for two ACC matchups against No. 11 Georgia Tech and Clemson

Pitt%E2%80%99s+volleyball+team+celebrates+a+point+against+Syracuse+in+the+Fitzgerald+Field+House+on+Oct.+1%2C+2023.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Pitt’s volleyball team celebrates a point against Syracuse in the Fitzgerald Field House on Oct. 1, 2023.

After two substantial conference victories last weekend, No. 7 Pitt volleyball (13-2, 4-0 ACC) returns home to Fitzgerald Field House this weekend to take on two ACC opponents — No. 11 Georgia Tech (13-1, 4-0 ACC) and Clemson (10-6, 1-3 ACC).

The red-hot Panthers enter the weekend in the midst of a 21-straight-set win streak, heating up at the right time with the heart of their ACC schedule approaching. 

The Panthers matchup Friday against a formidable top 15 opponent in the Yellow Jackets. So far this season, Georgia Tech has powered past opponents with their electrifying offense. Junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino leads the conference and ranks third in the nation with 35 total aces. Sophomore middle blocker Liv Mogridge leads the Yellow Jackets’ attack this season, posting a 0.448 hitting percentage — the second-best in the ACC.

Pitt hosts another tough conference opponent in Clemson on Sunday. The Tigers have dominated defensively this season. So far this season, Clemson ranks second in the ACC in blocks 144 total and third in blocks per set with 2.44. 

The Dan Fisher-led squad’s perfect combination of defensive and offensive efficiency has propelled the Panthers into the number seven ranking and the national spotlight.

So far this season, the Panthers have absolutely dominated near the net. The Panthers’ defensive front across the board has commanded the court, as it currently ranks first in the nation in total blocks per set at 3.27. Graduate student middle blocker Emma Monks has shined in the front row, ranking third in the nation in blocks per set at 1.59.

Like their presence at the net, the Panthers’ backcourt defense has also dominated. The Panthers currently rank first in the nation in opponent-hitting percentage at an excellent .116. Junior libero Emmy Klika, posting 3.55 digs per set, has led the Panthers back line.

Opposite of Pitt’s lockdown defense, the rise of first-years has also fueled the Panthers’ offense. Two weeks ago, first-year right-side hitter Torrey Stafford received ACC Freshman of the Week after posting 5.17 kills per set, 5.42 points per set and 1.67 digs per set. First-year right-side hitter Olivia Babcock continued her success last weekend, winning her second straight ACC Freshman of the Week, recording 32 kills, 14 digs, eight blocks and six aces.

Alongside Stafford, Babcock has impressed the Panther faithful and the nation. This season, Babcock has recorded 154 total kills, 13 aces and 194 total points. But Babcock’s offensive ability hasn’t overshadowed her impact on the defensive end. The Sierra Canyon High School product has excelled, recording 51 digs and 52 blocks this season. Babcock received ACC Freshman of the Week twice this season as well. 

Although the Panthers have seen great production from their first-year stars, the veteran presence is heavily causing the Panthers’ recent offensive tear. Senior outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomez has excelled offensively. Vazquez Gomez has posted 98 total kills, 17 aces and 125 total points for Pitt. The ACC Preseason first-teamer has lived up to expectations, leading the Panthers in total aces.

The key for the Panthers this weekend is simple — don’t change a thing. Pitt’s ability to create pressure offensively and absorb pressure defensively has powered the Panthers back into the national spotlight. If the Panthers are able to continue their recent dominance, this weekend should prove entertaining for fans at the Fitzgerald Field House. 

I see the Panthers possibly losing a set to the Yellow Jackets, but ultimately overcoming the No. 11 team in the country. Against Clemson, I see the Panthers making quick work of the Tigers.

About the Contributor
Dylan Grace, Staff Writer