Oct. 20, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Pitt volleyball had a fight on its hands for the second consecutive match, but the Sunday afternoon bout with Syracuse ended in a 3-1 loss at Fitzgerald Field House. The Panthers dropped the decision 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, 27-25 on their home court, falling to 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the ACC.
It took Pitt some time to work its way into the match. A lackluster first set saw the Panthers hit just .161 compared to .464 for the Orange (8-12, 3-5 ACC). No Panther connected for more than two kills and the lack of offense saw Pitt fall by eight points.
The second set went more in Pitt's favor, although it was never clear who was going to take the momentum. After just two ties and one lead change in the opening frame, the second set had the score knotted up eight times. The third and final lead change in the second gave Pitt just enough of a look to get its foot in the door.
Kate Yeazel reached back and slammed down a kill for 7-6. While that didn't immediately start a run for the Panthers, it certainly gave them a boost in confidence and got things going their way. After neither team was able to earn a lead of more than two points, Pitt worked away at the Orange and a 7-1 run put in the Panthers in front 17-11.
Mechael Guess tallied three kills during that stretch. Guess finished the set with six kills after totaling just two in the first frame. The junior finished the day with 15 kills.
The Panthers' move proved to be enough although the Orange countered with an effort to keep it interesting. With Pitt up 22-15 on a Yeazel kill, Syracuse claimed seven of the next nine points. That brought the score to 24-22. That run included three blocks from the Orange defense.
Jessica Wynn was able to close it out with a kill and even the match at one set apiece, and the third set followed a similar pattern. That the third turned out so close was not to Pitt's liking. The Panthers enjoyed an 8-0 run midway through play, giving them an 18-10 advantage. The game continued and Pitt's lead held at 22-14. That's when Syracuse's blocking game again wreaked havoc.
Three consecutive blocks drew the Orange within four at 22-18. A spot of offense got the visiting team even closer and erased three set points. A block from Syracuse's Silvi Uattara and Monika Salkute set the score at 26-25 and gave the Orange their first lead since 4-3. It was another block, this one from Salkute and Nicolette Serratore, that ended it at 27-25.
Syracuse totaled six total team blocks in the third set alone. It ended the day at 15.0 blocks, including eight from Salkute. Pitt totaled 7.0 as a team with Jenna Potts leading the way with five.
The end of the third set seemed to take some air out of Pitt's sails. Although the Panthers got out to a quick 4-2 lead, they weren't able to hang on, at least in the early goings. Seven straight points gave the Orange the momentum and a 9-4 lead.
Pitt struggled to get the sideout for some time. It just avoided going down by double figures with its best run of the day, taking 11 of 13 straight points. Potts factored in more ways than one during that stretch, tallying two kills and two blocks. It was KeKe Irby off the bench that registered a kill for 18-18, tying it for the first time since 4-4.
The end of the fourth set saw some of the most back-and-forth play of the day. After the 18-18 knot, the set was tied seven more times and the lead changed hands four times. Monica Wignot served an ace, her third of the day, to give Pitt a set point, but the next three points went to Syracuse to end the contest.
Pitt is now 31-10 all-time, and 12-3 at home, against Syracuse.
The Panthers will be back on the road for their next set of contests. First up will be N.C. State at 7 p.m. on Oct. 25 in Raleigh, N.C., followed by North Carolina at 1 p.m. on Oct. 27 in Chapel Hill.
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