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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

Pitt volleyball starts its Halloween weekend off with a bang, sweeps Virginia Tech 3-0

A+Pitt+player+blocks+the+ball+during+their+match+against+Virginia+Tech+Friday+night+in+the+Fitzgerald+Field+House.+
Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer
A Pitt player blocks the ball during their match against Virginia Tech Friday night in the Fitzgerald Field House.

No. 7 Pitt (19-3, ACC 10-1) started their Halloween weekend with no scares at all, defeating Virginia Tech (12-10, ACC 2-9) in a sweep. This is their 10th straight win at the Fitzgerald Field House.

The Panthers started things off hot against the Hokies. On the first five points the Panthers scored, they had five digs. Three of those digs came from junior libero Emmy Klika, who averages 3.49 digs per set. Kilka’s efforts helped the Panthers get out to an early 5-1 lead.

This early involvement in the game is something that Klika looks for when she takes the court.

“It kind of helps me set the tone for myself individually,” Klika said. “Getting involved more early on is nice for me to be comfortable earlier.” 

After Klika’s hot start, the Panthers and Hokies featured tons of back-and-forth action, with some mistakes from both sides on serve receive. 

But these mistakes didn’t mean much for the Panthers, as senior outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomez — who recently announced that she’s returning to the team for her sixth-year next season — got  three kills while hitting 1.000, giving the Panthers the 15-9 lead at the media timeout. 

Off the media timeout, the Panthers took total control of the Hokies. The Panthers didn’t commit a single error for the rest of the set, but forced four errors from the Hokies, helping the Panthers get out to a 25-13 set one win. 

The Panthers finished the set hitting .700, with both graduate student Chiamaka Nwokolo and Vazquez Gomez hitting 1.000.  They also held the Hokies to a .185 hitting percentage with none of their players hitting 1.000.  

Vazquez Gomez credited her hot start to junior setter Rachel Fairbanks and her ability to know what the Hokies block did.

“Rachel did a really good job,” Vazquez Gomez said. “I was just seeing the block really well.” 

In the beginning of set two, graduate student middle blocker Emma Monks asserted her dominance. In the first four points the Panthers earned, she accounted for two kills and two blocks. Then Vazquez Gomez continued her dominant night with two straight aces and a serve that caused an overpass from the Hokies. The Hokies’ overpass led to a Pitt kill and a Hokies timeout with Pitt up 7-3 in the second set.

Off the first Hokies timeout of the game, the Panthers continued to stay on the gas. Virginia Tech helped the Panthers keep the lead, as they continually made errors. The Panthers blocked and dug up anything and everything the Hokies threw at them, causing another Virginia Tech timeout with Pitt leading 16-7. 

Off the Hokies second timeout, the Panthers didn’t waiver, performing as well as they have all season. First-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford completely took over at the closing points of the set, adding three kills and an ace. Stafford helped the Panthers close out set two with a 25-14 victory.

The Panthers hit .524 in the second set, with Vazquez Gomez now hitting .778 with seven kills and Nwokolo hitting .800. The Panthers did this while holding Virginia Tech to a .120 hitting percentage.

In set three, Stafford used the offspeed shot to her advantage, getting two kills. Alongside Stafford, first-year outside hitter Blaire Bayless made an impact early in the set as well, adding two blocks and a kill. The first-years caused another early Hokies timeout, with Pitt’s lead at 11-3.

Like the first two sets, the Panthers did not let up against the Hokies. Four time ACC Freshman of the Week and right side hitter Olivia Babcock had to join the party of first-year domination, adding four kills off the Virginia Tech timeout.

Pitt’s first-years are crucial to the team’s success — both in the short and long term. Vazquez Gomez decided to return to the program for next season because of the first-years and her love of the program.

“I just love this program,” Vazquez Gomez said. “I’ve gotten so close to the freshmen and the other players. It was a no brainer [to return].”

With all of the first-years dominating, the Panthers won the third set handedly like the first two sets with a score of 25-14. Pitt’s third set domination secured the 3-0 win over the Hokies.

For the third set, head coach Dan Fisher took out the majority of their starting lineup. But that didn’t stop the Panthers from hitting as well as they have throughout the game, hitting at .636 clip. The Panthers also caused the Hokies to hit .222.

Even with the Panthers putting in a new lineup, Fisher expects the same great play from them. 

“This year, we feel like, with our depth, we do not need to lower our standards,” Fisher said. “Whoever came in was ready to go.”

On the day, Pitt finished with a hitting percentage of .619 — the highest mark of Fisher’s tenure at Pitt. The Panthers also caused Virginia Tech to hit .177.

The Panthers return to action on Sunday afternoon for a battle against Wake Forest (15-6, ACC 6-4), on senior night in the Fitzgerald Field House.

Fisher believes that these seniors deserve a great sendoff from Panther fans for many reasons.

“The new players have had incredible seasons,” Fisher said. “But we are honoring some players that have been to two final fours and an elite eight and I think they deserve a good send off.”

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer