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Pitt Volleyball

No. 7 Pitt Outlasts No. 13 Georgia Tech in Five Set Thriller



PITTSBURGH — No. 7 Pitt and No. 13 Georgia Tech battled it out in a five set thriller at the Petersen Events Center Wednesday. Pitt fell behind two sets to one, but a strong fourth set and multiple comebacks in the fifth set led them to an important victory over Georgia Tech.

The Panthers’ (26-3 overall, 16-1 ACC) win is the second this season against the Yellow Jackets (19-7 overall, 12-5 ACC), as they beat them on the road in October. It is also the third straight victory over the Yellow Jackets for the Panthers since November 2021. It improves the Panthers’s record against the Yellow Jackets to 12-2 since joining the ACC in 2013. The Panthers also finish with a 5-2 record against top 25 opponents this year, with three of those wins coming against top 10 teams.

“Really pleased that it was a close match,” Panthers head coach Dan Fisher said after the victory. “I was secretly hoping it would be a five-setter just because I know how tough the NCAA Tournament and how many similar environments we’re going to be in like it was tonight. It felt like a big time match.”

Georgia Tech led early on in the first set over Pitt and even built a lead as big as five points at 14-9. Pitt responded with a 6-1 scoring run to tie the set at 15.

Both teams traded points before the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to take a 23-18 lead, before eventually winning the first set, 25-21.

Pitt and Georgia Tech battled back and forth throughout the second set. Pitt managed to get a 15-12 lead, but Georgia Tech scored six of the nine points to tie it up at 18.

The Yellow Jackets took a slight 22-21 lead before scoring three of the final four points to win the second set, 25-22.

The Panthers looked like they were going to take a 2-1 set lead in the match, as they created advantages of 17-13 and 20-15 in the third set.

Georgia Tech responded with a 6-0 scoring run to take a 21-20 lead. Pitt tied it at 23, but Georgia Tech senior outside hitter Julia Bergmann made two consecutive kills to win the third set.

Finding themselves down a set, the Panthers needed to respond in a big way to stay in the match. They started out great with leads of 7-3, 10-5 and 16-13 throughout the fourth set.

The Yellow Jackets came back and tied the set at 16 and both teams traded points until they tied it up at 19.

Pitt then managed to take control of the set, thanks in large part to graduate right side hitter Courtney Buzzerio. She made three kills and one block assist, helping her team win the fourth set, 25-22 and tying the match at 2-2.

Georgia Tech played great to start the fifth set, creating leads of 3-0, 6-2 and 10-5. Pitt fought back and used four straight points and three straight kills from redshirt junior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez to cut the lead to 10-9.

The Yellow Jackets built their lead up once again to 13-10 and the Panthers found themselves in a difficult situation. The Panthers scored four straight points off of a kill from Vasquez Gomez, two attack errors on the Yellow Jackets and a service ace from sophomore setter Rachel Fairbanks, to give themselves a 14-13 lead.

Georgia Tech fought back four straight times when Pitt had set point, to keep it tied at 17. Fairbanks and senior middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo made two straight blocks on the next two points to win the set, 19-17, for Pitt and the match as well.

“In many ways, Georgia Tech out played us, but we just had enough grit to find a way to win. I just want to congratulate them on a great season. I wish them all the best in the tournament. We’ll be pulling for them to make a deep run. Mostly just proud of our team grit in finding a way in tough moments.”

Pitt played this match in front of the largest crowd of the season at the Petersen Events Center, with 3,556 people in attendance. Fisher credit them with providing a great atmosphere for the team and playing a big part late on with their support, even when Pitt fell behind in that fifth set.

“The biggest crowd of the season, which means a ton to these players,” Fisher said. “The crowd definitely definitely helped us win in the fifth set. You could feel their energy.”

Vasquez Gomez played one of the best games of her career as a Panther. She led the Panthers with a career-high 22 kills on an impressive .347 hitting, second best on the team. She also finished second with 14 digs on defense as well.

Buzzerio also played a solid game for Pitt, finishing second on the team with 20 kills on .340 hitting, which was third best. She also finished third with three total blocks

Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Emmy Klika played a majority of the match in place of starter senior libero/defensive specialist Ashley Browske. She made some important digs throughout the match, especially in the fifth set, finishing first on Pitt with 17 total.

Sophomore setter Fairbanks led Pitt with 39 assists, second best for her in 2022, in the win over Georgia Tech. She also finished second with graduate middle blocker Serena Gray with 5 total blocks.

Nwokolo led the Panthers with a .389 hitting percentage and six total blocks against the Yellow Jackets. Senior setter Lexis Akeo provided 17 assists as well, second best for the Panthers.

Pitt finishes their regular season schedule with a match against Boston College on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Excellent win against a very good program! These young women really showed some grit and Valeria(arriba!) willed them to win in the 5th set, Tremendous performance! H2P

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