Oct. 27, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Pitt volleyball again pushed its opponent to extra frames, but luck failed the Panthers for a second time as it fell 3-1 to No. 14 North Carolina at Carmichael Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers (12-11, 4-6 ACC) were led by Jessica Wynn's 15 kills and .625 hitting percentage, although Pitt hit under .200 for the match as a team.
Pitt gave North Carolina (20-1, 9-1 ACC) a fight in the early goings but could not hang on down the stretch. The Tar Heels earned the win with the final score of 25-21, 21-25, 25-17, 25-10.
Pitt kept the both of the first two sets competitive. The Panthers never trailed by more than four points in the opener, but they also struggled to take the lead. Their scoring advantage lasted until just 2-1, although they were able to knot things up at 14-14.
Trailing 13-9, Pitt claimed five of the next six points for that 14-14 tie. North Carolina then took five of the six points following the Panthers' run and their advantage was back to four at 19-15. Pitt was able to save one set point on a long rally that ended on a Wynn kill, but the first frame went to the home team, 25-21.
The Panthers came out of the short break looking a bit flat after the loss as the Tar Heels jumped out 5-1 in a hurry to open the second set. The two teams then began to match each other nearly point for point, but it looked as if that early run might have been just enough to give North Carolina the edge for the long haul.
Pitt had other plans. Eleven of 12 points when to the Panthers, a run that included two service aces from Monica Wignot, and Pitt had the 17-12 lead. Wynn also had a pair of kills and a block assist with KeKe Irby during that stretch to give the Panthers the momentum.
Wignot's aces were a nice sight to see. Pitt had failed to serve an ace and committed four errors from the back line in the first set.
North Carolina tried to threaten Pitt's five-point lead and went on a mini-run that brought it to within a single point. The Panthers would not go away easily, however. Wynn put down consecutive kills and Kate Yeazel and Jenna Potts teamed up for a block to extend the Panthers' lead.
Wignot was eventually able to finish it off with a kill, taking advantage of an overpass from the Tar Heels. That evened the match at one set apiece at the intermission for the second consecutive contest. The Panthers had gone from five points down to the four-point win.
The scores after the first two sets had been identical, just favoring the opposite teams. Pitt was able to hold North Carolina to a .162 attack percentage in the second set, a decrease from its .323 in the first. The Panthers were steadier, hitting .278 in the first and .257 in the second.
Just as had been the case on Friday at N.C. State, the third set got away from Pitt. The Panthers hit .200 as a team while the Tar Heels came in at .476 in the frame. Contributing to those numbers was an improved blocking game from UNC. After totaling two team blocks in the first sets combined, the Tar Heels had five in the third alone.
Most of those blocks came in the first half of play. Pitt was forced to call a timeout at 11-7, coming after a second consecutive rejection from the Tar Heels. Including the point after the stoppage in play, UNC had taken nine of 11 points. Although Pitt kept fighting, it was as if it was going against the current.
After dropping the third set, that current just kept going against the Panthers into the fourth. North Carolina's blocking game continued to wreak havoc and Pitt was never really able to get a handle on the game. The Tar Heels won the first seven points of the fourth and a block from Paige Neuenfeldt soon made it 9-2.
Pitt used both its timeouts within the first seven points and North Carolina cruised to its fifth consecutive win.
At the end of the match Pitt hit .172 for the match as a team, a percentage that was hurt significantly by its -.120 pace in the fourth set. North Carolina finished at .330 for the day. The Tar Heels also totaled 13.0 blocks in the match compared to 8.0 for the Panthers.
Wynn's 15 kills and .625 attack percentage for the day led the team and came on 24 attempts. She did not commit an attack error in the match. Jenna Jacobson also finished with a team-best 23 assists, while Delaney Clesen added 12 digs and Irby totaled five blocks on the defensive side.
Pitt will be back in action on Wednesday when it makes the trip to Maryland for a 7 p.m. match in College Park, Md. The Panthers will then finish their week at Notre Dame on Sunday, Nov. 3.