Sept. 29, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Pitt volleyball won its second consecutive match, improving to 10-5 overall and 2-0 in the ACC with a straight-sets win over Georgia Tech at Fitzgerald Field House on Sunday afternoon. Three Panthers reached double-figure kills, including Kate Yeazel with a team-best 14.
With the win, Pitt secured its first 2-0 start in conference play since 2009. As a member of the Big East, the Panthers opened their conference schedule four years ago with straight-sets victories over Marquette and Syracuse. In addition to Sunday's win over Georgia Tech, Pitt also defeated Clemson 3-0 on Friday evening.
"It's where we want to be," said head coach Dan Fisher of the conference start. "It's going to be even tougher next week (vs. Virginia Tech and Virginia). We have two really good teams coming to town. We're not going to get too high, but certainly we should feel good about the effort we put forward."
Pitt repeated the strong conference start Sunday with its 26-24, 25-21, 25-14 win over Georgia Tech (6-8, 0-2 ACC). In addition to Yeazel's double-digit kills total, Jessica Wynn added 13 kills and Mechael Guess had 11. Lindsey Zitzke totaled 22 assists and four aces.
Yeazel and Zitzke made an impact from the start. Zitzke's first ace of the day came on the very first point of the match and Yeazel had three kills in the first nine points of the contest. By the end of the first set, Yeazel's kills total had reached six and she was hitting a strong .500.
Yeazel ultimately hit .545 (14-2-22) for the day, making her the most efficient offensive player on the court. She tallied just two kills in the third and final set, but the Panthers did not miss her numbers much. Wynn stepped up to total seven of her 13 kills in the third, and Pitt put together its most straightforward victory in the finale.
After the first two sets saw 18 ties, including 10 in the first, Pitt made quick work of Georgia Tech down the stretch. An attack error from the Yellow Jackets gave the Panthers a 7-6 advantage and Pitt never gave it up.
Eleven of 14 points turned it from a 6-6 tie to a 16-9 lead for the Panthers. Wynn then put the difference into double digits with one of her 13 kills at 21-11. The win had been knocked out of Georgia Tech by then, however. The visitors were unable to rally for a comeback, dropping their second straight decision.
The relatively quick work in the third set was a bit of a surprise after the tight play early in the contest. Pitt led for much for the opening frame, but the scoring advantage was never a large one. The Panthers' largest lead of the first was just four points at 20-16, although even that was quickly erased on a run by Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets took the next four points to knot things up at 20-20 and eventually pulled in front 23-22. Jessica Wynn tied it again at 23-23 for the Panthers and Jenna Jacobson gave Pitt a set point with an ace. Georgia Tech saved that set point, but Wynn put down another kill and Guess gave Pitt the one-set lead.
Both teams hit a respectable percentage in the first with Pitt posting a .317 mark and Georgia Tech coming in at .400. Those types of numbers continued into the second with Pitt improving to .350 and Georgia Tech dropping marginally to .314.
Play and the score continued to be close into the second set, but it was the Yellow Jackets' turn to carry the lead for most of the time. Guess connected for a kill at 6-5, and that turned out to be Pitt's last scoring advantage until 16-15.
In between Pitt's leads, Georgia Tech got several points from Jennifer Percy who led all players with 15 kills. The Panthers were never far behind, however, and the Yellow Jackets' lead never got larger than three points.
Pitt secured its two-set advantage at the break with a 9-1 run. Guess totaled seen kills during that streak, while three others chipped in at least one. Zitzke and Monica Wignot also added service aces, taking the Panthers from 15-13 down to 22-16 ahead of the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech did its best to come back, drawing to within three and saving two set points, but a service error from the Yellow Jackets ended it 25-21 in favor of the Panthers.
The two-set deficit was too much for Georgia Tech to overcome with the most lopsided set of the match coming in the third. Not only was the Panthers' 11-point win in the final frame its largest of the day, but the Yellow Jackets' attack percentage dropped to its lowest at -.037. Pitt hit .333 in the third.
Pitt will look to extend its newest winning streak next week when it hosts Virginia Tech and Virginia Oct. 4-5. The meeting against Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. on Friday will air on ESPN3.
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