Oct. 29, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- There is no rest for the weary this week as Pitt volleyball, which played a tough pair of road matches last weekend, travels to Maryland for a midweek bout at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Panthers then head to South Bend, Ind., to face Notre Dame at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The meeting with the Irish will air on ESPN3.
HISTORY VS. MARYLAND & NOTRE DAME:
Pitt last faced Maryland in 2005, a meeting that ended in a loss. The Panthers still have the edge in the all-time series, however, at 12-9. Wednesday will mark Pitt's first time playing in College Park since 1992. The Panthers and Notre Dame are more familiar with each other although it's the Irish with the convincing series lead. Notre Dame leads 22-9 all-time against Pitt having won the last four.
Pitt and Maryland have squared off 21 times in program history with the Panthers leading 12-9 in the series. Eleven of those 21 meetings came between 1977-79, however, meaning most of their history is just that. The last time the two squads met was in 2005, a match that went to Maryland in three sets (20-16, 20-14, 31-29). The Terps outblocked the Panthers 15-4 in the match and improved their season record to 4-0.
When the Panthers dropped the 3-0 decision to Maryland in 2005, it was their first three-set loss to the Terps since 1979.
The last time Pitt and Maryland played in College Park was Nov. 8, 1992. The Terps took the 3-2 victory. The Panthers' last win at Maryland was Nov. 11, 1978 by a score of 2-1. They are 1-4 all-time when playing at College Park.
Pitt and Notre Dame have met several times in series history thanks to both teams being former members of the Big East. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 22-9 and has a current four-match winning streak against Pitt.
The last time the Panthers and the Irish met was Oct. 26, 2012 and Notre Dame won 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-11, 25-14). After staying close in the first two sets, Pitt was unable to keep pace down the stretch. The Panthers hit -.107 and .034 in the fourth and fifth frames, respectively, while the Irish finished at .524 and .542.
Jessica Wynn and Monica Wignot both totaled nine kills in the 2012 match vs. Notre Dame. That is the most kills against the Irish by a current Panther. Wignot also hit .438 in that contest (9-2-16), while Jenna Jacobson totaled 19 assists in her first career appearance against Notre Dame.
Maryland is 11-11 overall and 3-7 heading into the midweek match with Pitt. The Terps broke up a four-match losing streak with a sweep over Boston College but have since lost two straight against North Carolina and N.C. State. They did push the Tar Heels to five sets, however, the same night Pitt went the full five against the Wolfpack.
Maryland has posted a solid record at home this year, going 9-3 at the Comcast Center. Each of those three losses have come in ACC play, however, dropping decisions to Clemson, Virginia Tech and Syracuse.
The Terps finished the 2012 campaign at 17-15 overall and 8-12 in the ACC. That finish led them to being voted 10th in the 2013 ACC Preseason Poll. Juniors Ashleigh Crutcher and Adreene Elliot were both selected to the Preseason All-ACC Team.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME:
Notre Dame has had a surprising season so far and not in a good way. The Irish were one of the top teams in the Big East last season but find themselves at 8-13 overall and 2-8 in the ACC heading into the weekend.
Notre Dame is 5-4 at home this fall. One of those losses came in five sets to Purdue. The Irish also fell 3-0 in an exhibition with the Polish squad Dabrowa that also played Pitt at Fitzgerald Field House earlier this season.
The Irish went 20-10 overall and 13-2 in the Big East a year ago. They advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, losing in straight sets to No. 14 Ohio State.
Notre Dame was selected fourth in the ACC Preseason Poll this summer. Juniors Jeni Houser and Toni Alugbue were named to the Preseason All-ACC Team.
Pitt and its two opponents will all be trying to end losing streaks when they begin play this week. The Panthers are on a three-match skid overall and are looking for their first true road victory since Sept. 13 having lost each of their last five on their opponents' turf. Maryland has also lost its last two matches overall, while Notre Dame is working through a four-match skid.
BIG DEFENSIVE EFFORT:
Pitt totaled 76 digs as a team at N.C. State last Friday, setting a single-match high for the season. Delaney Clesen led the Panthers with 21 digs, while Jessica Wynn and Jenna Jacobson each had 13. That marked a career high for Jacobson. Pitt also posted a season-high 18.0 total team blocks against the Wolfpack. Jenna Potts had the team high in that category with 10, while KeKe Irby chipped in seven. Both totals tied their respective personal bests.
KeKe Irby has spent much of her first season with the Panthers coming off the bench. The redshirt freshman has earned three starting assignments, however, and that seems to agree with her. Irby has 29 kills on the season, 17 of which have come in her starts against Morehead State, N.C. State and North Carolina. Nineteen of her 24 total blocks have also come in those three matches, while her career highs in kills and blocks have both come during various starting assignments.
WIGNOT WITH THE LEAD:
After leading the team in kills seven times and finishing the season third on the team in kills per set (2.39) in 2012, senior Monica Wignot led Pitt in kills for the first time this fall at N.C. State. Wignot tallied 14 against the Wolfpack, her highest total of the season. She is now averaging 1.67 kills per set in 2013.
WINNING (AND LOSING) WITH THREE:
Three Panthers finished with double-digit kills on Friday at N.C. State - Monica Wignot (14), Mechael Guess (13) and Kate Yeazel (10). It was the ninth time this season at least three players reached double figures but the first time the match ended in a loss for Pitt. In the previous eight, Pitt defeated South Dakota (3-1), Albany (3-0), UConn (3-2), USF (3-2), Florida Atlantic (3-0), Rutgers (3-1), Georgia Tech (3-0) and Virginia Tech (3-0).
Through 13 non-conference matches, Lindsey Zitzke served 15 aces. In 10 ACC contests, the junior has totaled 17 aces and leads the conference with 0.47/set. Her conference highs include four aces against Georgia Tech and Virginia. Zitzke also ranks 66th nationally in total service aces (0.39/set).
Lindsey Zitzke has been getting much of the attention for her service game, but opponents can't forget about Jenna Jacobson either. The sophomore is second on the team with 30 aces and has committed just 10 service errors this season. Jacobson totaled four service aces last weekend, including three against N.C. State.
POTTS TURNING THEM AWAY:
Jenna Potts recorded her second match this season with 10 blocks, matching her total from Sept. 7 at UConn. The redshirt freshman leads the team and ranks 10th in the conference in blocks this fall with 93 (1.19/set). She is on the brink of becoming the first Panther with at least 100 blocks since Jasmine Dittrich totaled 105 last season.
DOUBLE J'S DOUBLE-DOUBLES:
Jenna Jacobson completed the second half of back-to-back double-doubles when she totaled 21 assists and 13 digs at N.C. State on Friday night. The sophomore also finished with 21 assists and 11 digs in the previous match vs. Syracuse. Jacobson joins Maria Genitsaridi as the only two Panthers with consecutive double-doubles this season.