Sept. 14, 2013
TAMPA -- Pitt volleyball defeated Florida Atlantic 3-0 on Saturday evening in the finale of the USF Invitational at the Sun Dome Corral on Saturday evening. With the straightforward victory, the Panthers finished the tournament at 2-1 and improved their overall record on the fall to 7-3.
After a grueling pair of five-set matches to start the tournament, Pitt needed to finish work quickly against FAU (5-5). The Panthers got just that with some efficient offense. Pitt's win came by a final score of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-12.
The Panthers ultimately hit .455 in the match. Broken down by set, that meant a .583 clip in the first set, followed by .364 in the second and .452 in the third. The overall attack percentage was the highest of the season for Pitt, topping their previous high of .319 a week ago against UConn.
In the first set, much of that offense came off the arms of Kate Yeazel and Jessica Wynn. The duo combined for 11 of the Panthers' 17 kills and a .563 attack percentage. By the end of the match, Wynn had a match-high 16 kills, Yeazel added 12 more and both hit better than .400.
Add that to the previous two matches and Wynn had 44 total kills (3.38/set) to lead the Panthers and earn a spot on the USF Invitational All-Tournament Team. Lindsey Zitzke was also an All-Tournament selection with 71 assists (5.46/set), 23 digs (1.77/set) and four service aces on the weekend.
Mechael Guess, who had three kills in the first set, added five in the second including one to give Pitt a two-set lead. The Panthers had obtained a comfortable lead late in the second frame before the Owls made them sweat a bit. Guess registered back-to-back kills to start a run for Pitt and by the time she capped off that run with yet another kill, the Panthers had claimed seven straight points and a 23-14 advantage.
The next five points went FAU's way. That got it to 23-19, causing a bit of concern. But a quick timeout to regroup proved to be the cure and the Panthers secured the next two points and the set.
The third and final set was perhaps the closest by score to start although Pitt was never in any true danger. The frame saw five ties, all at 6-6 and before. FAU got its last good look at pulling ahead after a kill got it to within 8-7, but Pitt had other ideas.
The Panthers won the next five points. Guess kicked it off with her 10th kill, Maria Genitsaridi added two more, Yeazel and Jenna Potts teamed up for a block and Lindsey Zitzke served up an ace, proving that the Panthers could get the job done in more ways than one.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Panthers' lead had reach double digits and then was up to 14 with match point at 24-10. The Owls got two must-win points to stay alive, but their deficit was just too much to overcome. Yeazel put the final nail in with a kill for the 13-point win.
Pitt went 2-1 on the weekend adding a five-set victory on Friday night to its wins column. The lone loss also came in five sets on Saturday morning as it fell to No. 22 Purdue.
Zitzke played a major role in the team's well-run offense, totaling 24 assists against FAU. Delaney Clesen continued to lead the defensive effort with 16 digs, and Potts led the team with three blocks.
After playing its first 10 matches on the road, Pitt will finally take to the court at Fitzgerald Field House. The Panthers will host Rutgers, Cornell and Morehead State at the Pitt Panthers Invitational Sept. 20-21. That kicks off a stretch of three consecutive weekends at home, which includes the start of the ACC season.
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