Pitt volleyball goes 2-1 to start season at Nebraska Invite


By Brandon Duerr / Staff Writer

For a program with tournament goals, Pitt volleyball’s start didn’t help answer any questions.

The Panthers won two of three games at this weekend’s Nebraska Invite, defeating two middling programs, but losing to a top-ranked opponent.

The team headed west to Lincoln, Nebraska to face off against Grand Canyon University, The University of Tulsaand the University of Nebraska in the invitational tournament.

In the first game of the weekend, the Panthers took on Grand Canyon, which is in its third season as a Division I program.

Pitt ended up sweeping the Antelopes, winning in three straight sets by scores of 25-22, 25-16 and 25-14, improving defensively in all three sets.

One of the new faces on the squad, Kadi Kullerkann, a graduate transfer student from the University of Houston, got off to a hot start for the Panthers, posting seven kills in the opening set and totaling 12 overall for the match. Senior hitter Amanda Orchard also added seven kills, while her superb defense made scoring tough for the Antelopes.

The Panthers took the final two sets of the match easily, taking advantage of both their ability to finish their kills and the Antelopes’ offensive miscues.

Saturday morning the Panthers continued to dominate, this time beating the Tulsa Hurricanes 25-14, 25-17 and 25-22 in three sets. Tulsa ranked only two spots behind Pitt in the last RPI rankings at No. 51.

Senior setter Jenna Jacobson’s 22-hit performance was a match high, while fellow senior Casey Durham converted on 10 of her 16 attack attempts.

In the final matchup of the weekend, Pitt had its first real challenge in a Nebraska team that came into the weekend ranked No. 5 in the country.

The Panthers faced a raucous environment in the road game and battled hard. But the team came up short, losing 3 sets to 1. The Huskers won the first two sets, 25-9 and 25-20, setting the Panthers up for a quick sweep. However, the Panthers got on the board with a close victory in the third set. As a team, Pitt posted nine blocks and fought the Huskers to extra points, finally taking the win, 29-27.

However, the hard-won victory would be for naught, as Nebraska overtook Pitt after an early lead in the fourth set, winning 25-19.

Kullerkann and red shirt freshman Angela Seman shined for the team and earned All-Tournament Team honors.

Kullerkann finished the three-game weekend tallying a total of 35 kills, including 12 against the No. 5 team. Meanwhile, Seman compiled 40 digs, with a season-high 15 coming in the Nebraska game alone.

The Panthers play next in the Pitt/Duquesne Invitational, with two games at home against Youngstown State and Colgate.

Youngstown State starts at 7 p.m. next Friday.

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