PITTSBURGH- On the heels of a winning 2013 season, the University of Pittsburgh volleyball team looks to build upon that success when it opens the 2014 campaign on August 29 at the Hampton Inn Invitational in Bowling Green, Ohio.
In Coach Dan Fisher’s first year at the helm, the Panthers finished their inaugural ACC season tied for fifth in the conference with a 19-14 overall record and an 11-9 conference record. Pitt looks to pick up right where they left off after concluding the 2013 season with six straight conference wins.
The Panthers boasts 13 returning players, led by five seniors: Delaney Clesen, Jessica Wynn, Kate Yeazel, Mechael Guess and Lindsey Zitzke. Clesen, a U.S. Collegiate National Team member, paced Pitt’s defense last season with 542 digs, increasing her career total to 1,122. Her digs total was the sixth most in a single-season at Pitt.
On offense, senior outside-hitter Jessica Wynn led the team with a career-high 410 kills in addition to her 220 digs and 71 blocks. Wynn was named Third Team All-ACC last year and will be vital to Pitt’s success in 2014. Senior right-side hitters Kate Yeazel and Mechael Guess combined for 560 kills on the season and look to help fuel the offense in 2014.
Jenna Potts, a redshirt sophomore middle-blocker, led the team with 140 blocks last season which was the sixth most in a single season. She looks to be a key clog in the middle. The Bernville, Pa. native, who stands at 6-3, also tallied 129 kills and 14 digs during her first year of action. Junior middle-hitter Amanda Orchard, from Lake Zurich, Ill., will look for increased playing time after seeing limited action her first two years. She finished last season with 33 kills, 25 digs and 14 blocks.
Three Panthers were among the top ten in aces-per-set in the ACC. Maria Genitsaridi led the way with 48 aces, finishing at the top of the conference, and her .37 aces-per-set average stood as second best in the league. Jacobson and Yeazel also finished the season in the ACC’s top ten in aces-per-set.
Pitt faces a demanding 2014 schedule, beginning its non-conference play with four consecutive tournaments. After returning from Bowling Green, the Panthers travel to Boulder, Colorado for the Colorado Tournament. Pitt will also play host to two tournaments this season: the Panther Classic on September 12-13, where they will host local rival Duquesne, Norfolk State and Colorado. The Panthers will also hold the Pitt Panther Invitational during the weekend of September 19-20 where they will take on USF, Sacred Heart and Delaware.
In ACC play, the Panthers will face three teams who are nationally-ranked in the preseason AVCA Coaches Poll in No. 13 Florida State, No. 20 North Carolina and No. 21 Duke.
The Panthers will kick off ACC play against Boston College on September, 28 at the Fitzgerald Field House. This game will also be televised on ESPN3.
Pitt will play in five nationally televised ACC matches on ESPN3 this season: Boston College (Sept. 28), Notre Dame (Oct.10), at Georgia Tech (Oct. 17), at Clemson (Oct.19) and at Louisville (Nov. 26).