Panthers beat ranked Duke in weekend sweep


By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

The Pitt volleyball team knew it needed to win on the road if the team wanted to improve its NCAA Tournament resumé. The Panthers (21-4, 9-3 ACC) defeated No. 25 Duke (18-6, 10-3 ACC) 3-2 Friday night and followed that win with a sweep of Wake Forest.

Pitt defeated Duke in a back-and-forth match — 29-27, 21-25, 27-25, 11-25 and 15-11 — before easily sweeping Wake Forest 25-15, 25-12, and 25-21.

Jessica Wynn, the kill leader for the Panthers, was sidelined for both matches with a foot injury. In her absence, each member of the team stepped up this weekend.

“We really banded together. It was a solid team effort. It wasn’t one person that was completely putting the team on their back and doing everything,” senior opposite Kate Yeazel said. “We couldn’t have done it without everybody playing together like that.”

Middle blocker Amanda Orchard said that “everyone stepped up” to give the Panthers two weekend wins. 


Sophomore outside hitter Maria Genitsaridi tallied a career-high 21 kills and 14 digs to record her third double-double of the season in a thrilling upset win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Yeazel and freshman Mariah Bell, making her first start for the Panthers, also reached double-digit kills, counting for 14 and 10, respectively. In the back row, libero Delaney Clesen continued her stellar season, recording a match-high 27 digs. Four of Duke’s players recorded double-digit kills with the Blue Devils’ top player, outside hitter Emily Sklar, tallying 21.

“It was really cool to play in Cameron Indoors,” Yeazel said. “At the very end, the final point — there are videos of it everywhere — just to look at your teammates and the look of pure joy was one of the coolest experiences.”

The Panthers jumped ahead in set one before the Blue Devils fought back to tie it up, including late in the set at 23-all. In set two, the Blue Devils raced out to a lead they only relinquished once. After trailing 15-14, Duke tied the set up before scoring 10 of the next 17 points.

Late in set three, the Panthers had a 24-22 lead, but Duke scored two straight points to force the set into extra points before outside hitter/opposite Casey Durham won it for Pitt. Down 2-1, the Blue Devils easily handled the Panthers in the fourth set. Duke went ahead 7-1, and continued to extend its lead into double digits. Pitt never could recover.

Pitt held an early three-point lead in a dramatic final set until Duke tied the set at 11. The Panthers ran off four straight to finish off its ranked opponent.

Orchard called the win “one of the best moments of the season for me.”

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons hoped that a Friday-night win after seven straight losses would turn their season around, but the Panthers made sure that didn’t happen. Yeazel was the only Pitt player to record double-digit kills as the team recorded 43 kills. She finished with a match-high 14. Orchard hit .583 with seven kills and zero errors.

Wake Forest had no answer to Pitt in the first set. The Panthers scored 10 straight points to take a 16-4 lead before taking the set win. Set two started off close before the Demon Deacons faltered. Pitt had another run in this set with seven straight points that secured Pitt a 2-0 lead as the teams went into intermission. Frustrated, Wake Forest held the final set close with the Demon Deacons taking a lead midway through the set. The set remained close with the score reading a tie as late as 20-20, before the Panthers scored five of the final six points to sweep the match.

Pitt returns home for two matches this weekend, where it will take on the Miami Hurricanes Friday night at 7 p.m. and the Virginia Tech Hokies Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

With two matches slated for this weekend, Yeazel said that this sweep will leave a lasting impact on the team.

“Especially beating Duke, it puts us in a good position to not only make the tournament, but the motivation we need in playing a good team, like Miami, this weekend,” she said.