Pitt Volleyball has reached incredible heights this season and have received impressive accolades for doing so.
Head coach Dan Fisher earned the AVCA East Coast Region Coach of the Year for 2022. He also won this award in 2017 and 2018.
Pitt earned a 27-3 record in the regular season and a 17-1 conference record that earned them a share of the ACC Title for the first time since 2019. They also won four matches against top ten schools, the most high-profile wins in Pitt history and are back in the Sweet 16 for the third straight season.
A big part of Fisher’s additions to this team includes graduate right side hitter Courtney Buzzerio, who earned the AVCA East Coast Region Player of the Year honor.
Buzzerio transferred from Iowa after four seasons to join Pitt for one last chance to see postseason success. She is one of the most important parts of the Pitt attack, as she leads Division I in hitting percentage of anyone over 880 attempts at .338. Her 411 kills in 2022 are also the eighth most in program history since the modern scoring era started in 2008.
She played one of her best games for the Panthers last Saturday against the BYU Cougars in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Buzzerio made a season-high 23 kills in the sweep over the Cougars, including 11 kills on .733 hitting in the third set.
Four more players from Pitt also made the AVCA East Coast Region Team in 2022. This includes redshirt junior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez, middle blockers in graduate Serena Gray and senior Chiamaka Nwokolo and sophomore setter Rachel Fairbanks.
Gray is another big part of the Panthers’ attack. She joined the Panthers after spending 2018-20 with the Penn State Nittany Lions and has spent the past two seasons as an important middle blocker.
She finished the regular season third in the ACC with a .406 hitting percentage in 2022 and eighth in the conference with an average of 1.10 blocks per set. She is one of four players in the past two years to hit over .400. Gray is also the only player to make 130 kills on a hitting percentage over .400 in ACC play.
Vasquez Gomez is an all-around player for Pitt and provides great execution on the attack and defensively. She and Buzzerio are the only two Pitt players to play every single set this season. She made the second most kills, the second highest percentage by a pin and also made the third most aces and digs in the regular season.
One her best games came against No. 13 Georgia Tech on Nov. 23, as she made a career-high 22 kills in the five-set classic. She also played a great defensive performance against NC State on Sep. 25, making a career-high 24 digs, the most for a Panther non-defensive specialist since 2017.
Nwokolo works with Gray to serve as one of the best duos of middle-blockers in the nation. She led Pitt with an average of 1.13 blocks per set, which finished as seventh best in the ACC. Nwokolo also had her first 100 kill and 100 block season of her career with the increased playing time in 2022.
Fairbanks serves as the setter for Panthers and led the team with 725 assists in the regular season, almost 500 more than the next player. She plays an all-around game, making kills and also playing strong defense by making clutch blocks and digs. Fairbanks is the first Panther to make over 100 kills, 700 assists, 200 digs and 30 aces in a season in the modern scoring era.
She completed a triple-double over Texas A&M on Aug. 28, finishing with 13 kills, 15 assists and 12 digs. Fairbanks also achieved another triple-double against BYU last Saturday, with 10 kills, 28 assists and 13 digs.
This makes her the only player in the country to record multiple triple-doubles in three set matches. It also makes her the first Pitt player to make multiple triple-doubles in the same season in the modern scoring era.
All five Pitt players named to the AVCA East Coast Region Team earned spots on the All-ACC teams last week as well.
No. 2 Pitt takes on No. 3 Florida this Thursday, Dec. 8 at 3:30 p.m. in the Sweet 16 in Madison, Wis.