Panthers sweep second straight weekend tournament


By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

The Pitt volleyball team enjoyed another weekend tournament at home when the team hosted the Pitt Panther Invitational. The Panthers continued their streak of dominance by sweeping South Florida, Sacred Heart and Delaware — its third tournament sweep of the year.

Libero Delaney Clesen was named Tournament MVP, while teammates Kate Yeazel, Amanda Orchard and Lindsey Zitzke were named to the All-Tournament Team.

So far this season, Pitt is 11-1 overall and 6-0 on its home court.

“It feels awesome,” Zitzke said. “It’s really good momentum to go into the ACC games. It gives us a lot of confidence.”

Pitt was tested throughout the tournament, fighting deficits. Despite trailing on numerous occasions, the Panthers managed to find a way to come back and win without dropping a match. 

“The most important thing is to stay calm and to make sure we get a decent pass, a decent set and to get a good swing,” Orchard said. 

The Panthers’ head coach Dan Fisher remained impressed with his squad. 

“Kate [Yeazel] had three good [matches] in a row, which is something we hadn’t seen yet. Hopefully that’s a sign of her getting into a pretty good groove,” Fisher said. “Delaney was very consistent the whole tournament. She averaged over five digs per set, and I think she did pretty well serving.”

The final player who stuck out to Fisher was Zitzke. Fisher called the tournament the “best three matches in a row,” and he can remember her performance because she was “being consistent and making good choices.” 

South Florida

The Bulls (6-6) opened Friday evening by outplaying Pitt in the first set. The Panthers struggled to find a rhythm against USF, committing eight attack errors in the set before falling 26-24.

Pitt went on to win the next three sets, on its way to a victory, after seeing its hitting percentage improve progressively. Four Panthers were hitting above .500 and outblocked the Bulls three to one in the second set en route to an easy 25-16 win. The Panthers continued to hit well during the third set on their way to a dominant 25-13 win. The fourth and final set proved to be more difficult for the Panthers, as they struggled at the net. As a team, Pitt held an edge in hitting and blocking, but the Bulls closed the gap in the score a few times before Pitt held on for a 25-18 win.

The team exposed a few weaknesses during this match — the Panthers’ passing wasn’t as crisp as usual, and serving was a struggle. Although Pitt had seven aces, the team also committed seven service errors. Wynn and Zitzke each recorded a double-double with 20 kills and 12 digs and 30 assists and 17 digs, respectively. Middle hitter Orchard also set a career-high in blocks with seven. 

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart (5-7) provided a test. Midway through the first set, the score remained close before Pitt ran away with a 17-12 lead and further extended it to 21-15. Clesen iced the set with an ace, and Pitt won 25-17. 

Pitt took control of set two by scoring the first three points and going up 10 points before the Panthers allowed the Pioneers to mount a comeback. Sacred Heart was only three points away from stealing the lead, as they lowered the margin to 21-18. Pitt came out of its timeout to finish off the Pioneers — with the help of Sacred Heart committing back-to-back errors — as the Panthers took the set 25-21. 

Set three followed the trend of earlier sets, as Pitt jumped out to an early lead. But the Pioneers didn’t go away and trimmed the Panther lead to 4.  After a timeout, Jenna Potts and Yeazel added kills, and errors by the Pioneers helped Pitt build a 19-13 lead. Sacred Heart scored three straight points before Pitt pulled away, recording seven out of the eight points to a 25-17 set and match victory. 

Wynn and outside hitter Maria Genitsaridi led the Panthers with eight kills each, and Clesen led Pitt with 18 digs. Wynn, Orchard and Potts led the team with four blocks apiece. 


Pitt seemed to handle the Blue Hens (7-8) easily in set one when the Panthers started the set off with four straight points. The lead grew for the Panthers, with the team winning by eight when Delaware called a timeout. The Blue Hens adjusted during this time to score six straight against Pitt before the Panthers created their own run to win 25-20.

A back-and-forth battle ensued between the two teams in the second set, and the score was tied or extremely close for much of the set as both teams exchanged kills. Pitt eventually built a four-point lead at 18-14, thanks to a Genitsaridi kill and Zitzke ace. Pitt finished off the Blue Hens with kills by Orchard, Guess and Wynn, as well as a block, on its way to a 25-18 victory.

The Blue Hens forced Pitt to play catch up in third set. Pitt trailed early on, struggling offensively, and seemed to be in danger of losing Orchard when she went down with a hip injury. Orchard, though, was able to finish the set. 

Delaware’s biggest lead came when the Blue Hens were up four points, but a kill from Potts and two from Yeazel brought Pitt back to 18-17. The Panthers gained the lead back at 20-19 and didn’t surrender. Clesen finished the set and match off once again with an ace. Pitt won 25-20.

“I caught the floor wrong and kind of slipped and my other leg … gave out,” Orchard said. 

Orchard said that, despite Pitt’s strong play, “there is always room for improvement” on the hitting side. Orchard added that “the middles played well” and especially commended Potts and hitter Yeazel. 

Overall, Fisher was pleased with the match. Despite Wynn not having top numbers, her teammates were able to pick up the workload and play well. The second-year head coach agreed that Yeazel was a strong player throughout the tournament, as was Clesen, who was “consistent.” 

Pitt’s next match is at home against Long Island University-Brooklyn Thursday night. It’s first regular match of the season and will be held at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Field House.