Nov. 13, 2011
PITTSBURGH--The University of Pittsburgh women's volleyball team qualified for the 2011 Big East Championship with a 3-1 victory over USF at Fitzgerald Field House on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers outlasted the Bulls with scores of 26-24, 23-25, 25-23 and 25-19. Pitt has qualified for the Big East Championships in eight of the last nine seasons, including all four under head coach Toby Rens.
"On paper we were very evenly matched with USF," Rens said after the match. "The Bulls have done a great job blocking this year and we outblocked them by one. Defensively, USF did an outstanding job in extending rallies, but we worked hard for every point today."
Senior Kiesha Leggs collected a match-high 17 kills and added six blocks. Prior to the first serve, Leggs and classmate Lauren Hartman were honored. Hartman chipped in two blocks and a kill off the bench.
Freshman Lindsey Zitzke collected 32 assists, six digs and three aces. She improved to fifth overall on the single-season list for aces and boasts 46 on the year.
Libero Delaney Clesen was one of four Panthers with double figures in digs. Clesen chipped in 15, while freshman Jessica Wynn had 14, sophomore Monica Wignot added 11 and junior Alexa Campbell tallied 10.
The match was a see-saw battle that featured 29 ties and nine lead changes. Pitt tallied 45 kills and 13 blocks to USF's 44 kills and 12 blocks. The Panthers convincingly out-served the Bulls, putting down 11 aces to three.
In the first set, Pitt led 13-10 after Zitzke attacked a pass from Wignot. The Panthers gained momentum and went ahead five with a solo block from Wynn two serves later.
Wynn gave Pitt another five-point advantage, 20-15, with an ace several plays later. USF rallied an 8-3 run to tie the frame at 23-23, but Leggs pounded a kill to the ground to give the Panthers the advantage.
The score was knotted at 24, when sophomore Brenea White recorded a block to put Pitt on top again. The Panthers earned the first set when the Bulls committed an attack error on the next volley. Leggs and Wynn posted three kills each in the opener.
In the second set, the teams were even through the first 22 serves before USF scored three unanswered points to take the eventual lead in the contest.
Later, Pitt called a timeout after trailing 21-17 and served consecutive points, including a Wignot ace. The Panthers would pull within one, 22-21 with a solo block from Leggs. The contest was knotted at 23-23 after Leggs blocked an attack from the Bulls. However, the Bulls won the next two volleys to claim the set. Wignot led all with four kills in that game.
Pitt came-from-behind in the third set and outlasted USF, 25-23. Trailing by as many as six at one point, the Panthers made it 18-16, with a kill from Leggs. A few plays later, Leggs stuffed an attack from the Bulls, who would also commit an attack error on two of three serves to tie the stanza at 20.
Each team traded points until Zitzke served an ace for game point. On the next volley, White sealed the victory with her first kill of the match. Leggs led all with seven kills, while Zitzke collected nine assists.
In the final frame, Wynn and junior Jasmine Dittrich combined on a block to give Pitt a 16-13 edge. The Panthers extended their lead with consecutive points thanks to another block from Wynn and Dittrich and back-to-back Zitzke aces.
USF attempted to close the gap, but Zitke's kill a few plays later put Pitt ahead by five again, 21-16. The Panthers finished the rally on a 4-3 run to take the match in four. Dittrich was 2-for-2 in the game and finished with six kills in the contest.
Wignot collected eight kills total, while Wynn finished the day with six.
Pitt will face No.1 Louisville on Friday, Nov. 18. The Panthers handed the Cardinals their only conference loss of the season on Oct. 23.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 18
Match 1: No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 5 Notre Dame, 11:00 a.m. ET
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh, 1:30 p.m. ET
Match 3: No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Villanova, 4:30 p.m. ET
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 6 Seton Hall, 7:00 p.m. ET
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 19
Match 5: No. 1/No. 8 vs. No. 4/No. 5, 2:00 p.m. ET
Match 6: No. 3/No. 6 vs. No. 2/No. 7, 4:30 p.m. ET
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 20
Match 7: Semifinal winners, 4:00 p.m. ET (LIVE - ESPNU)