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Pitt Volleyball

Pitt Sweeps Boston College for Share of the ACC Title

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PITTSBURGH — No. 7 Pitt swept Boston College Saturday afternoon at Fitzgerald Field House in their regular season finale to win a share of the ACC Title, the first since 2019.

The Panthers’ (27-3 overall, 17-1 ACC) share of the 2022 ACC Title is the fourth in six seasons since 2017. The win is also the second this year against the Eagles (19-13 overall, 7-11 ACC) who they defeated in early November. The win also gives the Panthers a 12-1 record at home this year and an 11-1 record at Fitzgerald Field House.

“It’s been a rewarding season,” Panthers head coach Dan Fisher said. “Just in light of the fact that we lost so many great seniors last year. We knew we had talent, but we didn’t know how it would come together and it’s been an enjoyable group to coach. I feel like we’re still getting better and excited to see our fate tomorrow.”

The 17 ACC wins are also the most for the Panthers since 2019, when they won all 18 matches. The sweep over the Eagles is the 10th sweep in the ACC for the Panthers this season and the most since 2019 when they had 13 sweeps. It is also the 19th straight victory over the Eagles since 2001.

“It’s awesome,” redshirt junior outside hitter Vasquez Gomez said on her team winning the ACC Title. “Obviously, all the hard work that we put in, we’re not done. We’re trying to win the NCAA Championship. Everyone put their part into this trophy.”

Pitt easily took care of Boston College in the first set. They built leads of 5-2, 10-3, 15-7, 20-8 and finished off with a 25-11 set win. Graduate right side hitter Courtney Buzzerio led Pitt with three service aces.

The Panthers dominated the Eagles once again in the second set. They started out with a 10-4 lead, increased it to 20-13 and finished off with a 25-14 set win.

Pitt and Boston College traded points to begin the third set. Pitt then increased their advantage to 9-5 and 14-9 and looked to be on their way to an easy sweep.

The Eagles responded and took advantage of some sloppy mistakes from the Panthers, going on a 6-1 scoring run to tie it up at 15.

The Panthers then took leads of 19-16 and 24-21 and were right there to take the sweep. The Eagles once again responded and tied it at 24 making it so that the winner needed to win by two points.

Buzzerio made two big kills and senior middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo made kill and a solo block to put Pitt up 28-27. Redshirt junior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez made the set winning kill and gave Pitt the victory.

Fisher complimented his team’s ability to get out of tough situations, such as this third set against Boston College and the fifth set against Georgia Tech and pull out the victory.

“We’re going to be in those positions in the [NCAA] tournament,” Fisher said. “The parity in women’s volleyball is high and so we know that we need to answer the challenge. Definitely felt like, especially with Georgia Tech, it really prepared us for what we’re going to see in the [NCAA] Tournament.

Vasquez Gomez led the Panthers with 11 kills against the Eagles on .435 hitting, second best on the team. Her five digs also tied for second best with senior setter Lexis Akeo.

“She was amazing, and she was great again today,” Fisher said on Vasquez Gomez’s performance most recently. “I think she’s been playing her best at the end of the year and that’s exciting.”

Graduate middle blocker Serena Gray made eight kills on a team-best .700 hitting. She finished second best with three blocks, tied with Buzzerio and fellow graduate middle blocker Sabrina Starks. Nwokolo led Pitt with six total blocks in the victory.

Sophomore setter Rachel Fairbanks led Pitt with 23 assists and Akeo provided 13 of her own.

Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Emmy Klika started for Pitt in place of senior libero/defensive specialist Ashley Browske in the win. She led the Panthers in digs with 10 after a solid performance in the previous match against No. 13 Georgia Tech.

“Her vibe is amazing,” Vasquez Gomez said about Klika’s recent performances. “She’s digging every single ball and scrapping and covering. She’s everywhere on the court and it’s awesome. She really helps the team winning the long rally.”

The Panthers held the Eagles to .120 hitting, as they used a strong defensive performance to defeat another ACC opponent.

Pitt starts playing in the NCAA Tournament next week. They find out who they play and what seed they earn Sunday, Nov. 27 at 7:30 p.m. on the NCAA Tournament Selection show, broadcasted on ESPNU.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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