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Pitt travels for two weekend road matches - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Pitt travels for two weekend road matches

By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

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The Pitt volleyball team travels this weekend, playing back-to-back matches for the first time since Sept. 19-20, and consecutive road matches for the first time since Oct. 17-19.

Pitt travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday to play the Duke Blue Devils and follows up that match Saturday evening against Wake Forest. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s good for us to have a short time to focus and go right away,” senior setter Lindsey Zitzke said about the team’s short turnaround.

Pitt may have to play without its kill leader, outside hitter Jessica Wynn, who has been in a walking boot and on crutches. The senior is currently day-by-day. If Wynn cannot play, the team will have to rely more on Amanda Orchard, Kate Yeazel and Maria Genitsaridi. Orchard is Pitt’s top hitter, ranking first in the ACC and sixth nationally with a .429 hitting percentage.

Senior libero Delaney Clesen anchors Pitt’s defense. Clesen ranks second in the conference with 4.55 digs per set with Duke’s Sasha Karelov ahead of her, with Wake Forest’s Caroline Wolf closely trailing in third.

Orchard said that Pitt’s weekend gameplan is to “pick up our offense a bit, and stick with our defensive intensity.”

Duke

With Sunday’s surprising 3-2 loss to Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils (17-5, 9-2 ACC) nearly fell out of the AVCA Coaches top-25 poll, but managed to grab the final spot. The Panthers will try to continue Duke’s stumble, but will have a difficult time when they travel to Durham, as the Blue Devils are 11-1 this season when playing on their home court.

“It’s a really big game for us this year so we’re really excited about it,” Orchard said. “It is at their home court, so it’d be nice to get a win.”

Despite being ranked third in the conference, Duke sits at the top of the ACC in hitting percentage, kills, assists and digs, and ranks second nationally in kills and assists per set.

A lot of Duke’s offensive success comes from its outside hitters and middle blockers. Outside hitters Emily Sklar — reigning ACC Player of the Year — and Jeme Obeime lead Duke in kills. Middle blocker Jordan Tucker not only holds the team’s best hitting percentage, but also ranks fourth in kills.

“We’re going to need a great defensive effort, but defense won’t just be enough,” Pitt head coach Dan Fisher said. “We need to be good offensively.”

Wake Forest

The Demon Deacons (12-12, 2-8 ACC) have not won since Oct. 3, when they beat NC State in five sets. During its current seven-match losing streak, Wake Forest has been swept four times, something Pitt has done 14 times to opponents. Wake Forest has won both of its conference matches at home, and has an 8-5 home record this season.

Senior Jazmen Russell leads the team offensively, averaging 4.26 kills per set. The outside hitter also relies on her teammate, middle blocker Matalee Reed, to help the Demon Deacons. Reed ranks fifth in the ACC with a .371 hitting percentage.

But Fisher isn’t viewing this as an easy win for the team.

“They play hard. We barely beat them a year ago,” Fisher said regarding Pitt’s 3-2 win last season. “They are really ready to get a win.”

After a few days off, Orchard said that she and the team are anxious for the weekend.

“We got some rest, and we’re ready,” she said.

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Pitt travels for two weekend road matches