Pitt Panthers Drop ACC Thriller To Florida State


The Pitt Panthers volleyball team fell to fourth-ranked Florida State Friday. Photo courtesy Zachary Weiss

The Pitt Panthers volleyball team dropped a 3-2 match to fourth ranked Florida State after opening with a 2-0 lead Friday.

Pitt won the first two games by 26-24 and 25-18 scores to lead heading into a 10 minute intermission. From there Florida State controlled the match to take the final three sets 25-17, 25-19, 15-11.

“I didn’t get the sense that we were nervous or that there was any fear, so I liked that,” head coach Dan Fisher said. “I don’t think we were good enough to win the third set on, so I did not like our defensive effort sets three, four and five. We let them hit over .300 combined and it’s tough to beat a team when you let them hit for such a high percentage. They started passing better and we couldn’t block a ball.”

Pitt had 65 kills for the match led by Kate Yeazel who had 15 kills on 29 total swings for a .379 attack percentage. Yeazel understood the opponent the Panthers were facing on the other side of the net.

“They’ve got some of the best hitters in the nation,” said Yeazel. “They’re ranked number four in the nation for a reason. Obviously we need to block better. We weren’t making the adjustments on the right side for their outside hitter.”

Overall the Seminoles comeback was led by Nicole Walch who had 24 kills and a .400 swing percentage. Florida State had 23 blocks to Pitt’s nine. In sets four and five, Florida State would take a lead with the Panthers answering right back, however the blocks gave the Seminoles a huge advantage.

“We showed a lot of character,” FSU head coach Chris Poole said. “We fought through adversity on the road in front of a great crowd. It was a lot of fun in the end, but the girls really turned it around and played the way they’re capable of instead of laying down and giving it away.”

Other top performers for Pitt includes Maria Genitsaridi and Casey Durham who each had 12 kills. Lindsey Zitzke had 29 assists while Jenna Jacobson had 24 and 12 digs. Delaney Clesen had a team leading 19 digs.

Pitt is now 17-3 on the season and 5-2 in ACC play. Its other conference loss was to 12th ranked North Carolina and also was a five set match. Yeazel noted the difficult nature of the loss but is happy with the team’s play.

“I think we have tunnel vision where we focus every week on the match we’re going to play next,” said Yeazel. “Once you step back, we’re having one of the best seasons in history, and it’s a really cool thing to be a part of.”

Pitt will next face Louisville at home Sunday with the match beginning at 2 p.m. Genitsaridi said the team’s objective for the match is clear.

“We’re not going to let this slow us down,” Genitsaridi said. “We’re going to fight back.”

Of note: The event was part of Spike & Slam Madness and following the match the Pitt men’s and women’s basketball teams took to the Fitzgerald Field House court. Coaches Jamie Dixon and Suzie McConnell-Serio participated in a Back to the Future skit. The women’s team held a hot shot challenge which was won by Monica Wignot, while the men held a dunk contest won by Mike Young.

Sheldon Jeter who competed in the challenge felt as though he got the raw end of the deal.

“I feel like I got cheated, my teammates feel like I got cheated,” Jeter said. “You know what it’s all good, I’ve got a lot of dunk.. no I don’t. I’m never doing another dunk contest at Pitt again.”

The final word will go to Cam Wright who interrupted my interview with Jeter.

“The judges were rigged, Sheldon should have won, period,” said Wright.

The women open with an exhibition against Indiana University of Pennsylvania Nov. 8, while the men will also face IUP Oct. 31 in its first exhibition contest.