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Pitt Volleyball

Pitt Demolishes Notre Dame in another ACC Sweep at Home

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PITTSBURGH — No. 8 Pitt dominated yet again in ACC Play, with a sweep over Notre Dame on Friday night at Fitzgerald Field House.

The Panthers’ (19-2 overall, 9-0 ACC) win over the Fighting Irish (9-10 overall, 4-5 ACC) is the 12th straight overall and is the third straight in the series. Sophomore outside hitter Julianna Dalton said that the Panthers prepared well and that the sweep was a result of their hard work this entire week.

“It was awesome,” Dalton said. “I think our team was really prepared for this game and I think we came out just swinging and ready to play some good defense. I owe it all to my team, just pushing me in practice every day and wanting me to get better and my coaches the same. Just a good team win.”

Dalton played her best game of the season in the win over Notre Dame. She finished tied first for Pitt with 11 kills and an impressive .400 hitting percentage and a .550 kill percentage.

She also provided help defensively, finishing third with 11 digs as Pitt made 61 digs as a team, with 25 coming in the first set.

Those 11 kills and 11 digs gave her the first double-double of her collegiate career. Dalton said her hard work in practice and the help of her setters made for such a great performance, one that she hopes carries her the rest of the season.

“I think I’ve been working on it in practice and trying to just crush and get better, Dalton said. “I think my setters did a really good job putting the ball up for me tonight. I think it was a mental switch. I’ve been struggling a little bit and so just had a good switch and now I think I’m in my groove.”

With both teams tied at four early in the first set, Pitt broke out on a 8-1 scoring run to take a 12-5 lead. Notre Dame then scored four straight points, but Pitt responded by finishing the set off, 25-10, on a 13-1 run.

The Panthers jumped out to a big early advantage of 10-3 to start the second set. They didn’t run into much trouble the rest of the way, increasing their lead to 16-7, then 20-12, then winning the set, 25-15.

Pitt continued their control of the match with a 10-6 scoring run to begin the third set. They didn’t build as big of a lead over Notre Dame as they did in the previous sets, but never relinquished it. Pitt held an advantage of three points or more the rest of the way and won the third set, 25-18, getting the sweep.

Graduate right side hitter Courtney Buzzerio tied with Dalton to lead the Panthers with 11 kills. This makes it her 13th straight game finishing first in kills and in double digits as well. It is also her 17th game this season in double digit kills. She finished with an efficient, .318 hitting percentage and a .500 kill percentage.

Sophomore setter Rachel Fairbanks played a balanced game in the victory for Pitt. She made a team-high 23 assists and six kills offensively, while also making three total blocks and tied for first with 12 digs with senior libero Ashley Browske defensively.

Graduate middle blocker Serena Gray led the Panthers with both a .571 hitting percentage and a .714 kill percentage. She also finished tied first with five total blocks, with first-year middle blocker Rachel Jepsen. Jepsen made her first appearance since High Point on Oct. 2 and played her best game of the season against the Fighting Irish.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez also played a solid game for Pitt, as she finished third with 10 kills and fourth with eight digs. Dalton said that Vasquez Gomez’s leadership is her best quality and that its helped her improve her game since she came to Pitt.

“She’s awesome,” Dalton said. “The first day I got here, she was the one who was like, “Hey. This is how our system works and this is how you’re going to be good for us.” She was the first one to give me feedback and encourage me at the same time. She’s an awesome teammate. She’s so inspiring. She’s a great person and a great player.”

Pitt faces their toughest test of the season when they play No. 2 Louisville at home on Sunday, Oct. 23. In order for Pitt to win the ACC for the first time since 2019, they’ll need to win this matchup and then in Louisville next month. Dalton said that if they can keep up the great play from recent weeks, they’ll be in line for a crucial victory.

“At the beginning of the week we watched some film and we were like “Hey, this is who they are, we know who they are. Let’s put faces to a name,” Dalton said. “Then we put that aside and started working on us and I think that working on us is the most important. I think both sides of the net are going to be dominant and we’re going to dominant if we keep up with what we’ve been doing.”

 

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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