Pitt cannot close out No. 4 FSU in five-set loss


By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

Two sets into the Spike and Slam Madness on Friday night, momentum was on Pitt’s side. But the Panthers slowly began to lose control of the match and walked away with a 3-2 heartbreaking loss to No. 4 Florida State.

The Fitzgerald Field House shook with close to 2,000 fans in attendance for the homecoming double event that featured volleyball and a preview of both basketball programs.

The Panthers (18-3, 6-2 ACC) saw four players reach double-digit kills. Senior opposite Kate Yeazel led the team with 15. 

Yeazel said having a large audience was exciting for the team. 

“They start chanting, and it really gets you pumped up,” she said.

The Seminoles defeated the Panthers 26-24, 25-18, 17-25, 19-25 and 11-15.

Florida State

Pitt outplayed FSU in the first two sets but lost its rhythm as the match progressed. The third set showed Pitt’s struggles as the Seminoles (20-0, 9-0 ACC) extended their lead to win that and the following fourth set.

FSU came out aggressively in set five and took a 6-4 lead before rolling to a set and match victory.

“I thought we competed well,” head coach Dan Fisher said. “I didn’t get a sense that we were nervous or had any fear.”

Following the match, Pitt basketball showed the fans what to expect this upcoming season.

Men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon and women’s basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio appeared first dressed as “Back to the Future” characters before player introductions. While most players opted to dance their way out, Nigerian center Joseph Uchebo carried a woven basket out to “The Circle of Life.” Paying homage to “The Lion King,” Uchebo lifted a basketball out and the crowd erupted with cheers and laughs.

The first competition was a shooting challenge between guards Brianna Kiesel and Fred Potvin and forward Monica Wignot. Wignot, a former volleyball player and recent addition to the basketball squad, won by one point over Potvin, as Kiesel finished third.

The dunk challenge gave fans to a chance to see Sheldon Jeter, Josh Newkirk and Michael Young show off three trick dunks in front of guest judges. Newkirk was only able to complete two dunks, while the champion Young had a perfect score on one of his three dunks.


Wrapping up homecoming festivities, the Panthers played the visiting Louisville Cardinals Sunday as the program recognized volleyball alumni. Pitt handled the Cardinals (13-8, 5-4 ACC) 25-15, 25-16, 26-28 and 29-27 in front of a smaller home crowd.

“After our Friday night game where it was the madness, and we had such a big crowd, it was kind of hard to come and create our own energy,” Delaney Clesen said.

Despite Friday’s loss, senior setter Lindsey Zitzke was elated with Sunday’s result.

“I’m really proud of how we came out and bounced back from FSU,” she said.

In the first two sets, the Panthers’ hitters provided strong play, and as a whole, the team tallied eight aces.

Early on, it appeared the Panthers wouldn’t let the loss against FSU affect them, as the Cardinals were no match until set three. Fisher called this disparity “a tale of two matches.”

The third set began to remind the team of Friday night, when Florida State won the final three sets to come from behind and win. Louisville was the stronger team on the floor, as it had more blocks and less errors. Despite its stronger play, the Cardinals struggled to put the Panthers away until a service error, and a bad set gave the Cardinals the win.

“We kind of had a flashback to Florida State, and we responded, as we’re not going to let that happen again,” Zitzke said.

The fourth set started out strong for Pitt, but Louisville quickly got out to a big lead. It wasn’t until Louisville had a 24-22 lead that the Panthers fought back to tie things up and push for a win, thanks to a kill by Yeazel.

“The most positive takeaway was we were down and things weren’t going our but we found a way to win,” Fisher said.

The team next plays at Virginia Tech on Friday at 7 p.m.