Sep 7, 2013
STORRS, Conn. -- Pitt volleyball collected its first tournament title of the season, defeating UConn in five sets at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday night. The Panthers (5-2) went undefeated in three matches at the UConn Classic. Kate Yeazel was named the Tournament MVP, while Delaney Clesen and Jessica Wynn were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Pitt won consecutive matches for the first time of the young season this weekend. It opened with straight-sets victories over Albany and Northeastern before taking the decision against UConn.
Through three matches, Yeazel registered 43 kills (3.91/set) and hit an impressive .462. The junior also had 13 total blocks (1.18/set). Clesen, who earned her second All-Tournament nod in as many weekends, finished with 51 digs (4.64/set) on the weekend. Wynn was second on the team in kills with 32 (2.91) in the tournament.
Against UConn on Saturday, the Panthers came back from a first-set loss and got a second win later in the night to defeat the Huskies 20-25, 25-17, 25-26, 23-25, 15-9.
Several players earned career highs in the match with the Huskies, including Yeazel who finished with 17 kills and seven blocks. Maria Genitsaridi also earned her first regulation double-double with personal bests in kills (11) and digs (14). Wynn's numbers weren't quite the highest of her career, but she also hit double-double totals with 15 kills and 12 digs.
Also on the defensive end, Jenna Potts
tallied 10 total blocks, making her the first Panther to hit double figures this fall. Clesen hit 20 digs for the first time this season as well.
Although Pitt dropped the first set, it had picked up some steam at the end of the frame. That led to a more successful second and third. With the Panthers running smoothly, it looked as if they would end the match in four sets. A battle ensued, however, and UConn evened the match with its two-point victory in the fourth.
Pitt nearly had the fourth set, coming from behind and tying the set at 23 all on a kill by Genitsaridi. A service error then gave the Huskies set point and they took advantage of the miscue, notching a kill on the next play and winning 25-23.
It was the second five-set match of the tournament for UConn, which also lost in five to Northeastern on Friday night, but the first of the season for Pitt. The difference in experience did not seem to play a factor as the Panthers never allowed the Huskies to take the lead.
Yeazel kicked things off for Pitt, registering each of the team's first three kills and putting the Panthers in front 4-2. Potts' lone block solo of the night kept Pitt's scoring advantage at two points, and that slim lead held for nearly the entire round.
Pitt ended the match with five of the final six points. Of those, two of the last three came off Wynn's arm and ended in kills.
As a team, Pitt had the upper hand in fifth-set attack percentage, something they had much of the night. The Panthers hit at a .467 clip in the fifth compared to UConn's .188. At the end of the night, Pitt's overall attack percentage stood at .319. UConn was at .129.
The nailbiter ending was somewhat unexpected considering the ease with which Pitt took the second and third frames. Play went back and forth at the start of the second, producing six ties with the last coming at just 8-8. After that, however, Pitt put together some well-time runs and used its more efficient hitting to keep the Huskies from getting many good looks at regaining control.
After those string of ties in the second, Pitt went on a 4-0 run that proved to be just enough to turn the tides and put the Panthers in front 12-8. That lead continued to grow as the set progressed thanks in part to a lineup change that saw Amanda Orchard rack up the kills. Orchard, who did not play in the first set, totaled four kills in the second and ultimately finished with seven kills.
The two teams were relatively evenly matched in the opening frame with Pitt hitting .179 and UConn at .192. The next two sets, going in line with the score, went the way of the Panthers with them hitting better than .350 and the Huskies coming in at under .100 each time.
Coupled with a .353 attack percentage in the third set, Pitt enjoyed a 9-2 run early on that gave them a 12-5 lead. That streak included several kills by Wynn and was capped off with a service ace from Clesen.
As a team, Pitt totaled nine service aces, including three from Jessica Boddy, but it also had 19 errors. The squad's total blocking numbers were also impressive. The Panthers' had 16.5 on the night, its highest of the season.
Pitt's three wins to take the tournament title give the team its first set of consecutive victories this season. The Panthers will try to extend that streak next weekend at the USF Invitational Sept. 13-14 in Tampa, Fla. Pitt will take on South Florida, Purdue and Florida Atlantic in their southern swing.