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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

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Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
Opinion | Do not weigh Reddit law school forums too heavily this upcoming application cycle
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 18, 2024

No. 7 Pitt volleyball gets another ACC win, beats Virginia 3-0

Pitt%E2%80%99s+volleyball+team+celebrates+a+score+during+the+game+against+Virginia+at+the+Fitzgerald+Field+House+on+Wednesday+night.+
Alex Jurkuta | Staff Photographer
Pitt’s volleyball team celebrates a score during the game against Virginia at the Fitzgerald Field House on Wednesday night.

No. 7 Pitt (17-3, ACC 8-1) started their week with a strong win over Virginia (8-11, ACC 1-8) as they swept the Cavaliers 3-0, continuing their strong start in ACC play and giving head coach Dan Fisher win No. 275 with the Panthers.

A head coach achieving 275 wins this quickly into their tenure is something that hardly ever happens. But something that Fisher can attribute to achieving that milestone so quickly is his ability to teach his players, like graduate student middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo, to do everything on the court. 

“[Fisher] trains us to be all skills players,” Nwokolo said.

In set one, the Panthers’ skilled players started the game on fire. First-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford accounted for four of the first seven kills for Pitt. Stafford’s dominance early caused the Cavaliers to call their first timeout early with the score of 7-2.

The Panthers stayed hot after this early timeout because of their continued offensive dominance, as they extended the lead to double digits and caused another Virginia timeout. The Panthers’ early efforts gave them a 13-3 lead.

With both of the Cavaliers’ timeouts gone, Panthers junior setter Rachel Fairbanks showed why she deserves ACC Player of the Year. Fairbanks had a ridiculous one-handed set to Stafford, keeping the Panthers lead at ten with the score of 18-8.

This impressive set to Stafford was something that Fairbanks has practiced but now does it on instinct.

“We have been working with footwork on the net, but I feel like it’s instinctual,” Fairbanks said.

After Fairbanks’ head-turning set, the Panthers kept on the gas as they defeated the Cavaliers by a score of 25-13 in the first set. 

The Panthers then handed the Cavaliers three points as they had a serving error on their first three serves in the second set. 

But these early mistakes didn’t end up hurting the Panthers, as Nwokolo went on a six-point run from the service line and gave the Panthers two aces and a dig in her time at the serving position. Nwokolo’s efforts gave the Panthers an early 11-5 lead.

When Nwokolo went back to the service line, her goal was to just put some pressure on the Cavaliers. 

“I just went back there and put some pressure on the other side,” Nwokolo said. “Got a little comfortable, got into a nice groove, and streaked together good serves and good defense.” 

But then the entire Fitzgerald Field House went completely silent a few plays after,  when two-time ACC First-Year of the Week Stafford went down with an apparent ankle injury after a collision at the net. Stafford’s injury caused junior outside hitter Juliana Dalton to replace her with the score at 14-8.

With Dalton now in the game, the Panthers still dominated the Cavaliers in all facets. The Panthers’ domination led to them winning the second set by a score of 25-13 after an offspeed shot kill by Fairbanks.

This offspeed shot kill is something that Fairbanks realizes she learned from her past playing beach volleyball in California. 

“Growing up, I played beach volleyball,” Fairbanks said. “So, I feel like I do a pretty decent job of seeing the court and seeing the block.”

After the Panthers dominated the first two sets, Fisher put in a different lineup. This new lineup featured both of the Hawaiian setters, first-year Haiti Tautua’a and graduate student Lexis Akeo, and first-year outside hitter Blaire Bayless. The lineup struggled early, leading to Fisher calling his first timeout of the game with Virginia leading 7-3 in the set. 

Off the first Fisher timeout of the match, the new Panthers lineup started to figure it out. Junior libero Emmy Klika recorded multiple digs, which helped keep the Panthers in multiple rallies. 

This defensive play eventually brought the Panthers to their first lead of the set at 18-17, which also led to the first Virginia timeout of the set.

Off the Cavaliers’ timeout, the Panthers’ new lineup looked like the starters as they took control of the match. This led to another Cavaliers timeout, with the Panthers now leading 21-18. But this timeout didn’t mean much for the Cavaliers, as the Panthers would win the set 25-21 and take home the 3-0  win.

Despite the win, the state of Stafford’s injury loomed large for the Panthers. Still, Fisher said he’s optimistic about the injury.

“She looked good after the game,” said Fisher. “She’s in good spirits, we will know more tomorrow, but we are being optimistic.” 

The Panthers will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday to face NC State (15-4, ACC 9-0), who is undefeated at home this season.  

Fisher is excited for the challenge that is ahead on Friday and recognizes that the Wolfpack are no easy opponent. Fisher realizes that the Panthers and their top-in-the-nation blocking have to show up for this big game.

“They have some good right sides, I like their setting,” Fisher said. “They are an aggressive team offensively, they take big swings. Our block needs to be well-formed.”

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer