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Pitt Volleyball

Pitt Volleyball Final Four Preview

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Led by head coach Dan Fisher and fifth-year players Kayla Lund and Chinaza Ndee, Pitt’s volleyball program has reached new heights this season, as they’ll face Nebraska in the Final Four on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Like Penn State, Nebraska has been a powerhouse in women’s volleyball for decades. The Cornhuskers have won five national championships and four of those titles have come under current head coach John Cook. However, after an appearance in the Elite Eight last season and making it to the Final Four this year, Pitt is starting to become known as a volleyball school, as well.

Ndee says she started to notice a change during her sophomore year in 2018.

“When we had a game here against Duke my sophomore year, I just remember looking at the bleachers and being like, ‘Oh, this is real,’” Ndee said. “We would have never done that my freshman year. That was one of the moments for me when it hit that we have built something here.”

Pitt has had really talented teams in recent years, but with the additions of Leketor Member-Meneh and Serena Gray, Fisher and Lund both believe this is the most talented and deepest team that they’ve ever had.

“The players on the court are very talented and we have the most depth that we’ve ever had,” Fisher said. “We’ve seen it with players like Rachel Fairbanks stepping in and Chiamaka (Nwokolo) moving positions. So, we feel like we’re talented on the court and if we need to make a change, the person coming in is ready to go.”

“As far as the depth, for sure this team has the most depth,” Lund said. “Throughout our years here we’ve had extremely talented individuals, but I think as far as the group and the depth that we have this is the most (talented).”

The Panthers know they’ll have their hands full with Nebraska, as the No. 10 Cornhuskers knocked off No. 2 Texas to reach the Final Four.

“Nebraska is playing really good volleyball right now,” Lund said. “They’re playing their best volleyball of the whole entire year. They have big freshmen that are stepping up and are playing the best that they’ve been playing. And of course, they have their older girls that are holding it down, per usual. Pretty much what we’re doing is really focusing on our side of the net and all the things that we can control, and the things that we will continue to get better at and grow at to help beat them.”

Fisher thinks the transition game against Nebraska will be crucial.

“They’re good in transition and they don’t make a lot of errors,” Fisher said. “We’re probably pretty similar in the serve pass game, so I think the transition game is going to be pretty important.”

Pitt is the No. 3 ranked team in the country and is the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers are 30-3 on the season and two of their three losses were to Louisville, who is 32-0 this year and will face No. 4 Wisconsin on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Traditionally, the PAC-10 and Big Ten have dominated women’s volleyball, so Fisher thinks it’s huge for the ACC to have two teams represented in the Final Four.

“The success of the ACC, what it really means is that recruits know that they don’t have to go to a certain league to fulfill their goals. So, on a recruiting side it’s huge for our conference,” Fisher said.

Fisher thinks the success of Pitt athletics overall lately will help recruiting, as well.

“I think the more teams at Pitt that are doing well it helps recruiting, it helps our brand, it helps our fanbase, it helps our revenue,” Fisher said. “I think rising tides do lift all boats when it comes to college athletics.”

Pitt left for Columbus at 6 p.m. on Tuesday from the Fitzgerald Field House, and they’re hoping to return to Pittsburgh with a national championship.

“We don’t know if we’re going to win it all. It’s a sporting event, but we know we can,” Fisher said. “And they have that belief that they can beat anyone.”

The start time for Pitt’s semifinal game against Nebraska on Thursday is at 9:30 p.m. ET., and it will be aired on ESPN.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Justin Dietrich
Justin Dietrich
9 months ago

9:30 pm on a Thursday is just mean

TMG
TMG
9 months ago

Way to Rock! H2P

Eli
Eli
9 months ago

Lotsa luck, ladies!

Dukes

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