Oct. 13, 2013
TALLAHASSEE -- Two Panthers finished in double-digit kills but Pitt fell short of the firepower to pull off the upset against No. 21 Florida State at Tully Gym on Sunday afternoon, losing in straight sets. With the Florida road trip now at a close, Pitt will return home next weekend at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in the ACC.
Pitt played a close match against Florida State (12-5, 5-1 ACC) before dropping the 25-22, 25-23, 25-20 decision. Mechael Guess led all players with 12 kills and hit .500 on the day. She was joined in double figures by Kate Yeazel with 11 kills.
"I thought we competed well," said head coach Dan Fisher after the match. "Coming from Miami where we didn't compete as well as we wanted to, I thought that part was good. Our effort was strong. We talked about serving tough and I think we did. I think that affected the game and made them uncomfortable."
Pitt finished with seven aces, led by three from Monica Wignot. Lindsey Zitzke added two on the day.
Pitt stayed competitive with the nationally ranked Florida State. The final stretch in each set never seemed to go the Panthers' way, however. In both the first and set sets, Pitt led as late as 21-20. Each time, the Seminoles put together a well-timed run to dampen the Panthers' hopes of an upset.
"For us to beat top teams, there are a few too many silly errors that happen at critical times, so we have to keep working to eliminate those," said Fisher. "There were a lot of positives, so we'll get in the practice gym and try to get better for next week."
The first set was relatively straight forward. Pitt led from the start, although that scoring advantage was never more than four points. The four-point lead held as late as 18-14 before Florida State started to make its move.
Five of the next seven points went to the Seminoles and the Panthers' lead was down to 20-19. At that point, Pitt's offense was running well and the team had a .579 attack percentage.
After that, however, things started going more Florida State's way. The Seminoles ended the first set on a 6-1 run, taking their first lead at 22-21 on a Pitt attack error. Florida State ultimately took the three-point win and Pitt's hitting percentage had dropped to .286.
After only one tie and one lead change in the first set, the second was a much different story. The second frame saw 12 ties and eight lead changes, but it wasn't until late that the score started to change hands so often. In the second it was Florida State's turn to hold the early lead and a Pitt run made it interesting.
With the Seminoles leading 12-7, the Panthers claimed eight of the next nine points with Guess chipping in two kills during that stretch. That put Pitt in front 15-13. Florida State was able to knot things up at 15 all, then six more times after that. The Panthers' never led by more than a single point during the back-and-forth, but neither did the Seminoles until almost the last possible moment. Yeazel saved one set point with a kill, but in the end it was a two-point decision in favor of Florida State, 25-23.
Pitt was more efficient offensively in the second set, improving its attack percentage to .371. Florida State maintained its high level of play, making it difficult for Pitt to make up ground. After hitting .400 in the first set, the Seminoles improved to .471 in the second.
A two-set deficit proved to be a too much for Pitt to overcome, although the Panthers put up an entertaining effort. The closest Pitt came to holding a lead was a 5-5 tie after another Yeazel kill. It did come within a point several times, the last as late as 19-18 courtesy of a kill of Maria Genitsaridi's arm. Just as had been the case earlier in play, however, the final run proved to be the difference maker. Florida State scored six of the final eight points to win in straight sets.
After the final ball, Pitt hit .290 as a team. While Guess was at .500 for the day, Yeazel also closed things out with a .304 attack percentage and Genitsaridi finished with nine kills and a .562 percentage. Jenna Jacobson led the Panthers with 20 kills, while Zitzke totaled 17.
Pitt will be back at home next Friday to host Boston College at 7 p.m. at Fitzgerald Field House, followed by a Sunday afternoon meeting with Syracuse that will air on ESPN3.