Oct. 16, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- A tough road trip handed Pitt volleyball its first set of consecutive losses this season, but the Panthers hope a return to Fitzgerald Field House will also mean a return to the wins column when they host Boston College at 7 p.m. on Friday and Syracuse at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Action for the Pitt-Syracuse showdown can be seen live on ESPN3.
HISTORY VS. BOSTON COLLEGE & SYRACUSE:
As former members of the Big East, Pitt, Boston College and Syracuse have long histories with each other. Success in both series sways heavily in favor of the Panthers. Pitt leads Boston College 21-1 all-time and is a perfect 8-0 at Fitzgerald Field House against the Eagles. The overall advantage against Syracuse stands at 31-9, including a 12-2 mark at home.
Friday's 7 p.m. match vs. Boston College has been designated Family Night. Fans and their families can take part in drawings and contests to win restaurant gift cards and Pitt prize packs. Jeep will also be giving out drawstring bags to those in attendance.
LAST TIME VS. BOSTON COLLEGE:
Pitt improved to 21-1 all-time against Boston College when the two teams last met in 2004. With the win (30-23, 30-28, 20-30, 30-22), the Panthers improved to 17-5 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the Big East. Azadeh Boroumand finished with 50 assists and 16 digs.
Pitt's only loss to Boston College came in 2000 when the Panthers fell 3-2 despite a 21 kill-31 dig performance from Stacey Renick. That is also the only five-set match played in series history. The Panthers are 17-0 in straight sets and 4-0 in four sets. Additionally, the last two meetings between the squads have been decided in four frames.
LAST TIME VS. SYRACUSE:
Pitt and Syracuse's last meeting came just last October. The Panthers won that match in three sets, 25-22, 25-16, 25-18 behind 12 kills from both Jessica Wynn and Monica Wignot. Pitt hit .273 as a team compared to .171 for the Orange. Pitt is 20-3 all-time in straight-sets matches against Syracuse.
The last time Syracuse came to Pittsburgh, it was 2011 and the Orange went home with a 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-22, 25-21). It was a rare win for Syracuse in Fitzgerald Field House. Pitt holds a 12-2 advantage when playing the Orange on its own court, although those losses came in 2007 and 2011.
GUESS IN THE ACC:
Mechael Guess led the team with a total of 19 kills last weekend at Miami and Florida State. The junior now ranks third on the team in kills for the season with 160 (2.76/set), and first among Panthers in ACC play with 65 (3.25/set). Her .376 attack percentage in conference action is also a team high among players with more than 10 kills and ranks third in the ACC.
MIXING IT UP:
Pitt has used five different starting lineups this season, including three different ones during ACC play alone. The Panthers did not vary from the original starting six through their first 12 matches, going 8-4 with Kate Yeazel, Jessica Wynn, Lindsey Zitzke, Jessica Boddy, Jenna Potts and Maria Genitsaridi opening play. Pitt is a combined 3-4 with the other four starting lineups, including one that used Wynn, Mechael Guess, Jenna Jacobson, Potts, Monica Wignot and Genitsaridi in the most recent outing at Florida State on Sunday.
SECOND SET KEY:
The second set seems to be critical to the overall outcome of the match for Pitt this year. The Panthers are 5-3 when winning the second set but just 0-5 when losing it.
IRBY STEPPING IN:
KeKe Irby's playing time has been somewhat limited in her first season with the Panthers, but the redshirt freshman has been making the most of the action she does see. Earning her first career start against Morehead State on Sept. 21, she finished with a career-best five kills and a .625 attack percentage as well as seven total blocks. Her next two appearances came off the bench at Miami and Florida State where she hit a perfect 1.000 in each match. Irby totaled three kills against the Hurricanes and two more in a single set against the nationally ranked Seminoles.
Lindsey Zitke has posted 14 service aces (0.70/set) during ACC play, including a season-best four against both Georgia Tech and Virginia. No other Panther has more than six aces in all of conference action. Zitzke currently leads the team in aces for the entire season at 29 (0.40/set).
Prior to last weekend, Pitt was 7-1 in three-set matches this season. The Panthers then dropped back-to-back straight-set matches to Miami and No. 21 Florida State, their first defeat in three since Aug. 31 against Idaho State.