Panthers pick up two more ACC wins over weekend


By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

Playing in front of two of the ACC’s toughest crowds didn’t prevent the Pitt women’s volleyball team from picking up two more conference wins over the weekend, continuing an impressive season. With the NCAA Tournament in their sights, the Panthers (17-2, 5-1 ACC) beat both of their weekend opponents — Georgia Tech 3-0 Friday evening and Clemson 3-1 Sunday afternoon.

“It was really awesome to come into the weekend and get two wins,” senior opposite Kate Yeazel said. “Georgia Tech is a really hard environment to play in, as well as anywhere in the ACC, when you are on the road.”

“We did a pretty good job offensively and blocking the team. They had some pretty good hitters, but our defense was good,” sophomore outside hitter Maria Genitsaridi said. “Everything worked today.”

“To beat good teams, you need to have good performances,” head coach Dan Fisher said. “Our whole team came to play, and, in big moments, we got a lift from everyone.”

Georgia Tech

 The Yellow Jackets (9-12, 2-6 ACC) weren’t a challenge for Pitt when the team traveled to O’Keefe Gym Friday evening. Pitt swept its opponent for the 13th time this year, 25-18, 25-14 and 25-22.

Missing junior and top hitter Amanda Orchard because of personal reasons, Pitt relied on three seniors at the net. Opposites Mechael Guess and Yeazel, along with outside hitter Jessica Wynn tallied for 31 of Pitt’s 46 kills. Guess led the team with 11. Senior libero Delaney Clesen had a match-high 13 digs.

After Pitt easily won the first two sets, set three featured more drama, as both teams exchanged points early. Georgia Tech eventually took a 20-17 lead, forcing a timeout by the Panthers. Pitt regrouped itself to tie the set at 22 with kills by Yeazel. A Wynn kill gave Pitt a 23-22 lead that turned into a match victory.


 Both Pitt and Clemson (14-6, 3-4 ACC) entered Sunday’s televised match on a three-game winning streak, but Pitt left as the ultimate winner. Although they lost set one 24-26, the Panthers took the next three sets 25-17, 25-20, 25-21. Genitsaridi scored the final point in each of the final three sets.

In the third meeting between the two teams, Yeazel had a match-high 16 kills, and Genitsaridi recorded 15 kills along with 13 digs to give her a double-double. Clesen continued to anchor the backcourt with 19 digs.

The Panthers’ energy from Friday’s match carried over into set one as they scored six straight to lead 6-1. The lead diminished as the Tigers came back to tie the score. Both teams exchanged points for the rest of the set with no team’s margin larger than two, and Clemson eventually won the set.

“The one disappointment of the match was how we started defensively,” Fisher said before adding that junior outside hitter Casey Durham, Yeazel and both of the middles [Jenna Potts and Orchard] performed better.

Yeazel said the team made changes on blocking and other technical aspects in the second set, contributing to a Pitt win.

“We started blocking their outside setter [reigning ACC Rookie of the week Kate Federico], which really helped our defense and, ultimately, our offense,” she said.

In the final set, Pitt jumped out to an early 4-1 lead before Clemson stole the lead back. Down 12-9, Fisher used one of his timeouts to regroup the team. Out of that timeout, Durham logged a kill and senior setter Lindsey Zitzke served two aces to help Pitt regain the lead. Thelead never disappeared as the Panthers’ superior hitting led to a match win.

Fisher was pleased with the weekend’s outcome, despite the blocking adjustments and service errors.

“We want to play aggressive volleyball and challenge other teams to beat us,” the second-year head coach said. “We’re doing that for the most part.”