The Pitt Panthers advanced to their third Sweet Sixteen in three years, sweeping the Brigham Young Cougars 3-0 in the battle of the big cats on Saturday, December 3.
Setter/Right Side Rachel Fairbanks recorded the first Panthers’ triple-double in NCAA tournament history, notching 10 kills, 28 assists and 13 digs.
Courtney Buzzerio sealed the win with her season-high 23rd kill.
Pitt controlled play throughout the game but couldn’t win decisively in the first two sets, allowing the Cougars back in the game each time they managed to build a substantial lead.
Both teams started the first set slowly, working around errors and brief volleys to a 10-10 gridlock. From there the Panthers began to establish themselves, forcing a Cougars’ timeout after an ace by Valeria Vazquez Gomez made it 17-13. Pitt claimed the first set 25-21 on a kill by Chiamaka Nwokolo.
Pitt raced out to a 6-2 lead in the second set, forcing the Cougars to call another timeout and prevent the match from spiraling out of control. The break paid off, as BYU closed the gap to 10-9. Pitt recovered, stretching their lead to 23-18, but again struggled to put the Cougars away, allowing a 4-0 run before claiming the second set 25-22 via a serving error and a Vazquez Gomez kill.
The Panthers ran away with the third set, 25-18, to make their third Sweet Sixteen in program history.
— Pitt Volleyball (@Pitt_VB) December 4, 2022
Pitt (29-3) advances to face the No. 3 Florida Gators on Thursday, December 8. The match will take place in Madison, Wisconsin.
Brigham Young’s season ends in Pittsburgh for the second consecutive year: the Cougars’ 2021 season ended against Purdue in the Sweet Sixteen.