- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Sept. 7-8, 2018
- Tournament Central
The home boards have been kind to No. 13 Pitt thus far in 2018, first seeing the team to a 3-0 mark at the Panther Challenge including an upset of Cal Poly. On Friday, two more victories pleased the home fans, first surviving a five-setter with Kennesaw State and then topping Dayton in four to match their best start since 2006 (8-0). Saturday will bring a larger test in a top 15 showdown with No. 12 Washington, who held on to defeat Dayton in five sets on Friday afternoon.
#13 Pittsburgh def. Kennesaw State 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-16, 20-25, 15-7)
Key Stats: Eighteen blocks and standout hitting efforts in sets 3 and 5 helped Pitt hold on to its perfect record. After hitting -.033 with 10 miscues in the opening stanza, the Panthers made just 15 errors the rest of the way en route to a .225 hitting effort. A .519 clip in Set 3 and a final .412 effort were proof of the improvement. Kennesaw State hit .175 for the match, but outdid Pitt 61-56 in kills. The Panthers boasted an 18-10 lead in stuffs and 5-3 edge in aces.
Stat Leaders: A balanced offensive attack saw four Pitt players post double-digit kill tallies. Sophomore outside Kayla Lund led the way with 14 kills and 11 digs, while Sophomore middle Chinaza Ndee (13), junior middle Layne Van Buskirk (13) and junior right side Nika Markovic (10) followed. Ndee hit at a team-high .385 clip (13-3-25) and put up six blocks, while VanBuskirk hit .346 and notched eight stuffs. Markovic chimed in with seven blocks alongside redshirt junior outside Stephanie Williams.
Sophomore outside Lauren Chastang (15), junior opposite Maddie Jones (14) and senior outside Sydni Shelton (11) paced Kennesaw State to the near upset with double-digit kill totals. Shelton hit at a team-best .269 clip, while Jones served up two aces. Senior middle Liesl Engelbrecht added nine kills and a team-leading five blocks.
It Was Over When: After splitting the first 10 points of Set 5, it was nearly all Pittsburgh. The Panthers closed out the match on a 10-2 run, including three kills and a match-winning ace by Lund. Kennesaw scored its final point on a Chastang kill to cut the margin to three at 10-7. Pitt stayed perfect on the season with help from a final 5-0 run, with a kill and a block by Ndee and a Markovic putaway setting up the final ace by Lund.
#12 Washington def. Dayton 3-2 (25-19, 27-25, 24-26, 23-25, 17-15)
Key Stats: Both teams started the match on fire offensively with Washington hitting at an errorless .538 clip (14-0-26) and Dayton turning in a .429 effort (14-2-28). Washington outhit the Flyers .256 to .247 and boasted an 8-5 lead in aces. Dayton stayed in the match with 13 blocks (to 9 for UW) and outdid the Huskies in kills (68-64) and digs (69-61).
Stat Leaders: Junior outside Kara Bajema notched a 22-kill, 10-dig double-double, her third of the season, to lead the way for Washington. Sophomore outside Samantha Dreschel chipped in 20 putaways and accounted for four of the team’s eight aces. Senior outside Destiny Julye also reached double digits with 13 putaways. Junior middle Avie Niece notched a team-high six blocks to go with five kills.
Senior outside Lauren Bruns downed a match-high 26 kills at a .400 clip for Dayton. Redshirt sophomore setter/right side Brooke Westbeld, senior middle Kendyll Brown and freshman outside Alli Papesh followed with 11 kills apiece. Freshman middle Amelia Moore piled up seven blocks, while junior middle Sierra Pla and Brown added five and four respectively to keep the team in the game at the net. Westbeld just missed a triple-double, adding 28 assists and nine digs to her kill total.
It Was Over When: After rallying to force a decisive fifth set, Dayton built a slim 5-4 lead in the finale after trailing 3-1 early. Washington led 8-7 at the changeover and scored five of the next eight after that to vault ahead 13-9. Two Bruns putaways and two UW hitting miscues knotted the score at 13. A Dreschel kill gave the Huskies a match-point try, but Bruns thwarted that. Dreschel added another putaway, but a service error kept the set going. Ella May Powell came through in the end with a kill and a block assist with Niece to clinch the 17-15 win and the match.
#13 Pittsburgh def. Dayton 3-1 (20-25, 28-26, 25-14, 25-7)
Key Stats: Pitt overcame 13 Dayton blocks by hitting .356 for the match and serving up seven aces. The Panthers hit just .207 in a Set 1 loss, but hit .371 or better in the remaining three sets including a match-high .448 effort in Set 4. Pitt posted 14 more kills (61-46) and four more aces (7-3), while trailing 13-5 in blocks. The Flyers hit just .214 for the match after being limited to a -.138 effort in the final stanza (3-7-29).
Stat Leaders: Kayla Lund racked up 18 kills and four aces to lead the Pitt attack. Nika Markovic (13), Stephanie Williams (10) and Layne Buskirk (10) followed. Van Burkirk hit at a team-best .600 clip (10-1-15), while Williams hit .444 and added eight digs and three aces. Setter Kamalani Akeo notched a 39-assist, 12-dig double-double, while directing the offense to a .356 clip.
Lauren Bruns was the lone Flyer to post double-digit kills, turning in 16 to go with five blocks. Alli Papesh and Sierra Pla followed with nine putdowns apiece. Pla did so on a match-best .727 hitting effort (9-1-11). Amelia Moore led the team at the net with seven blocks.
It Was Over When: Pitt separated itself early in Set 4, cruising to an 8-2 lead with help from four Dayton miscues. The Flyers were within five at 11-6 when the Panthers put the match out of reach with a 10-0 run. Lund pounded down five kills in the rally. A setting miscue stopped Pittsburgh momentarily, but the team finished out the night with four straight points. Two Lund kills and a third by Chinaza Ndee set up the final point, which came on a Dayton hitting error.