Tough start for volleyball

By SHAUNNA STUCKFor The Pitt News

The Panther volleyball team traveled to Muncie, Ind., during the Labor Day weekend to open… The Panther volleyball team traveled to Muncie, Ind., during the Labor Day weekend to open their 2002 season at the annual Radisson Hotel Roberts/Nike Classic.

Expectations were high for the team, as the Panthers were ranked No. 2 in the Big East preseason poll by the conference’s coaches.

Pitt had a rough schedule during the weekend, having to battle two of the top NCAA volleyball teams, Nebraska and Southern California. Although the Panthers returned home with a 1-2 record, they are ready and well prepared for the rest of their season.

Nebraska 3, Pitt 0

Pitt faced a difficult task in their first game on the schedule with the No. 2 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Despite losing in three straight sets, numerous players gave strong performances.

Senior setter Carrie Norris had 26 assists and seven digs, while Preseason Big East Player of the Year, Wendy Hatlestad added nine kills and eight digs.

Not only did freshman Megan McGrane start her first collegiate volleyball game this weekend, she also had the pleasure of returning to her hometown of Muncie, Ind., where she added 11 digs.

“It was pretty amazing to start my first game against the No. 2 team in the nation, but the coaches did a great job preparing us,” said McGrane, who was excited about being home. “There were a lot of family and friends here for support. It was nice to have such a huge cheering section all the way out in Indiana for Pitt.”

Southern California 3, Pitt 0

Game two pitted the Panthers against another tough opponent, No. 3 Southern California.

Pitt came out strong, leading in the first half of set one. But the Panthers lost their lead and failed to retaliate for the rest of the match, losing 3-0.

Hatlestad had another successful game with 12 kills and eight digs. Redshirt junior Sarah Rollman followed suit with nine digs and nine kills. Pitt’s top performance came from Norris, who completed 37 assists, eight digs, and two kills.

Pitt 3, Ball State 1

The Panthers rolled on to beat Ball State, 3-1, as Norris continued her assault into the teams’ final weekend game against the unranked Cardinals. She recorded her first double double, with 10 digs and 52 assists.

McGrane also had another outstanding game with a team high 20 digs and Sarah Rollman had a big game, as she added 19 kills, 53 attempts, eight digs, and 53 assists.

Head coach Chris Beerman was pleased and impressed with the way his team played this weekend.

“We had to raise the expectations and our mentality for these games,” he said. “Our team gained confidence by playing such high-intensity opponents.”

Pitt returned home and will play St. Francis (PA) Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Panthers look to even out their record against the Red Flash (2-1).

“Students want to watch good things,” Beerman said, hoping that his team will have a home court advantage. “We have a high-level team.”

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