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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

No. 8 Pitt volleyball sweeps No. 9 Georgia Tech, establishes itself as contenders in the ACC

Senior+libero+Ashley+Browske+%284%29+cheers+during+Pitt+volleyball%E2%80%99s+game+against+Louisville+on+Oct.+23%2C+2022.
Ethan Shulman | Staff Photographer
Senior libero Ashley Browske (4) cheers during Pitt volleyball’s game against Louisville on Oct. 23, 2022.

Pitt volleyball (22-4, 13-2 ACC) swept Georgia Tech (21-4, 12-3 ACC) on Friday night on the road. The Panthers did well at getting both blocks and kills. Pitt hit a .440 compared to Georgia Tech’s .057. Panther blocking also reigned supreme with nine as opposed to the Yellow Jackets’ two. 

Pitt’s duo of first-years did not come to mess around. First-year right side Olivia Babcock garnered 15 kills, two aces and four blocks. First-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford registered 10 kills, four digs and two blocks.

Georgia entered the match on a win streak of six. On the other hand, Pitt came in with only one, with a recent loss to Florida State in five sets. Earlier in the season, the Panthers beat the Yellow Jackets in a reverse sweep on 6 Oct. at the Fitzgerald Field House. 

Both of Pitt’s earlier losses came on the road. But this time, the Panthers did not let the loud opposing fans affect their play against the Yellow Jackets. In preparation for this, the Panthers focused on pressure serving in practice — a tactic where players scream at the server to simulate a loud environment.

The first set began with a 9-0 service run from Pitt redshirt senior outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomez. But several kills from Georgia Tech junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino closed the gap for the Yellow Jackets. 

Pitt’s blocking put a stop to the Yellow Jackets’ heavy hitters. In the first set, the Panthers forced four attack errors out of Georgia Tech. A kill from Olivia Babcock brought the score to 20-11, forcing a Georgia Tech timeout. A final Yellow Jackets net violation ends the set at 25-13, allowing Pitt to take an early 1-0 match lead. 

In their last match, Georgia Tech won the first set by two points. The Panther first-years were relentless on the Yellow Jackets defense. Both Babcock and Stafford registered five kills in the first set. 

The second set started off with the Yellow Jackets staying neck and neck with the Panthers. Babcock’s two back-to-back aces gave Pitt distance from Georgia Tech. Her run ended with a service error. 

A mini 4-0 service run from Vazquez Gomez put the Panthers farther ahead, giving Pitt an 8-0 lead. Midway through the second set, Panther blocks brought the Yellow Jackets hitting percent into the negative. Babcock shined in the second with six kills. Despite the Yellow Jackets’ final push, the Panthers were too far ahead. The second set went to Pitt at 25-14. 

Blocks were Pitt’s biggest advantage, with seven blocks through the first two sets. Georgia Tech’s blocks did not work as well, with Pitt registering a .524 hitting percent. 

In the third set, Pitt errors and Georgia Tech aces gave the Yellow Jackets an early lead. Pitt blocks lacked their earlier effectiveness, with Georgia Tech hitting .231. Bertolino became a problem for Pitt, as she hit more efficiently than the rest of her team, hitting .579 across the whole set. 

But Panther sophomore defensive specialist Dillyn Griffin turned the tide and put Pitt in the lead with an 8-0 service run, including two aces. One final Stafford kill was the nail in the coffin for Georgia Tech. The final set score was 25-19. 

In contrast to Bertolino’s effective kills, Pitt put a stop to Otene. She was a problem for the Panthers last meeting, hitting .240. This was not the case this match, due to Pitt blocks forcing Otene to hit -.200.

This match established who is in contention for the ACC championship. No. 5 Louisville, No. 7 Pitt, No. 8 Georgia Tech and Florida State all had 12-2 records coming into Friday night. This created another level of stress for Pitt and Georgia Tech. The need to prove themselves as conference leaders and the risk of dropping out of contention fueled both teams.

Pitt volleyball comes back to Oakland for their final test for ACC contention. Nov 18 will see the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals travel to the Petersen Events Center and take on the Panthers. The winner will likely go on to claim the ACC title.

About the Contributor
Patrick Diana, Staff Writer