Aug 31, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- For the second day in a row, Pitt volleyball split its matches at the Tiger Classic at the Hearnes Center. On Saturday, the Panthers (2-2) opened their day with a four-set comeback against South Dakota before falling 3-0 to Idaho State in the finale.
Delaney Clesen was Pitt's All-Tournament Team representative. The libero finished her weekend with 57 digs (4.07/set), more than any other player on the team. She also finished with two aces and two kills on two attempts.
Pitt collected its first four-set victory of the year against South Dakota (2-2), winning 25-27, 25-15, 25-16, 25-17. The Panthers went on to drop its decision to Idaho State (2-2) 25-16, 25-23, 25-20.
The first match of the day against South Dakota gave plenty of highlights despite Pitt losing the first set. Kate Yeazel tied her career high in kills with 14, but she was not even the team leader in the stat. Jessica Wynn posted her first double-double of the year with 16 kills on a .433 attack percentage and added 10 digs. Maria Genitsaridi also had 10 kills, giving her the highest total of her young career.
Pitt was the steadier of the two teams throughout the day's opener. The Panthers hit .291 as a team and each set's attack percentage hovered just under .300 with the exception of the fourth when they hit at a .310 clip. The Coyotes, however, started at .323 in the first set and dropped below .100 for each of the last three frames.
Pitt never let the fact that it dropped the first set 27-25 get under its skin despite the way it happened. Neither squad held a lead bigger than three points and the bout saw 12 ties in that first set alone. Although the score was close, Pitt appeared to have control as play wore on.
A kill from the Coyotes' Sydney Dimke put them up 24-23 and gave them their first advantage since 8-7. Genitsaridi posted a kill to re-tie the set and Jenna Potts served her first career ace to get Pitt its first set point. South Dakota responded with the final three points and ended up with the one-set lead.
The late finish did not propel South Dakota down the stretch, mainly because of errors that crept in and gave Pitt some extra opportunities. Play really broke open midway through the second set when attack errors on three of four points pushed the Panthers to a 16-9 lead after the score differential had hung around just three points for quite some time.
By the end of play, Pitt had clearly separated itself from its opponent and ended the second set with a 10-point win.
The third and fourth sets against South Dakota followed similar trends and each one ended with the Pitt offense that had been forcing the issue throughout play. A Wynn kill ended the second, while Lindsey Zitzke snuck an attack in at the end of the third for the win. The final nail came from Yeazel who tied her career high in kills, originally set at 14 last November against South Florida, with the last point in the fourth.
Helping the Wynn-Yeazel-Genitsaridi trio to its double-digit kills totals was Zitzke, who finished with 28 assists. Not to be outdone, however, the Panthers' defensive game played a major role in the win as well. Jessica Boddy led with six total blocks, while Yeazel and Potts each added five more. Clesen tallied 17 digs, more than one of which came while throwing her body into rows of chairs.
Wynn improved her kills total on the day against Idaho State, although it was not enough to raise the Panthers over the Bengals. The Pitt junior added 12 more kills against Idaho State and Yeazel registered eight. Wynn finished her weekend with 47 total kills, 28 of which came on Saturday, to lead the Panthers. Yeazel totaled 41.
The Panthers as a unit were not quite as sharp against the Bengals as they had been earlier in the day. Pitt hit better than .200 in just one set and finished the match at .172. Idaho State compared with an overall attack percentage of .321.
After suffering their most lopsided decision of the afternoon in the first set against the Bengals, the Panthers nearly came back in the second. Play was so close in the early goings that Pitt's three-point lead at various times felt like a breakthrough. It was not enough to hang on, however, as Idaho State put together a pair of runs that it a two-frame lead.
The Bengals' first 5-0 streak gave them a 16-14 advantage. That run included two attack errors from the Panthers. Idaho State's second 5-0 run took them from trailing 22-19 to leading 24-22. Jessica Boddy held off one set point with a kill, but an attack error again made Pitt pay the price and they lost by two after seeing their slim lead slip away.
Idaho State again came from behind in the third. A 7-1 run for the Bengals eliminated Pitt's lead and Idaho State never gave up that advantage again. The Bengals put up their best hitting percentage of the night, finishing the third at .458. It was Pitts' first three-set loss of the season.
With the first tournament in the books, Pitt will now turn its attention to its home opener on Tuesday. The Panthers will host the Polish team Dabrowa in the International Classic at Fitzgerald Field House. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. start.