Pitt volleyball continues to establish its dominance as a program and placed four players on the preseason All-ACC team on Thursday.
The four players are middle blockers in graduate Chiamaka Nwokolo and junior Bre Kelley, redshirt senior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez and junior setter Rachel Fairbanks. Pitt volleyball also received a second-place finish with 189 votes, just one off of Louisville, who also placed five players on the preseason All-ACC team.
Nwokolo originally chose to graduate after the 2022 season, but reversed her decision in June and decided to comeback to the team. That’s great news for Pitt, as she finished on the Second-Team All-ACC and AVCA East Coast Region Team in 2022.
She recorded a career-high 166 kills, 118 blocks and 235.5 points last season while posting a .374 hitting percentage in 34 matches (31 starts).
Nwokolo led Pitt with an average of 1.13 blocks per set, which finished as seventh best in the ACC. She also had her first 100-kill, 100-block season of her career with the increased playing time in 2022.
Kelley transferred into the Pitt program this summer from Florida and should serve as one of the best middle blockers in the conference this upcoming season.
Standing at 6-foot-3, she had a .351 hitting percentage, third best on the team and best outside of the liberos/defensive specialists. Kelley also dominated at the net, as she made 124.0 total blocks and 203 kills, second and fourth best on the Gators in 2022, respectively. She also hit over .400 in 12 matches and started all 31 matches for the Gators last season.
She also played with Fairbanks and under Pitt head coach Dan Fisher on Team USA these past two summers, winning back-to-back Pan Am U-21 Cups.
Vasquez Gomez played all 126 sets for Pitt in 2022 and starred in her first season in the starting lineup. She finished second on the team with 405.5 points, 3.22 points per set, 359 kills, 2.85 per set and 291 digs, 2.31 per set. For her efforts, she earned AVCA Second-Team All-American honors and made the All-ACC and AVAC All-East Coast Region teams.
Fairbanks played incredibly in 2022, asserting herself as one of the best setters in the country. She led with 725 assists in the regular season, almost 500 more than the next player. She possesses 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 also posted two triple doubles last season becoming the first Panther to achieve that feat in the modern scoring era (2008-present). Fairbanks earned AVCA Third-Team All-American, Volleymag.com Fourth-Team All-American, AVCA All-East Coast Region and All-ACC Second Team honors in 2022.
Pitt volleyball opens their season against BYU in the Ellysn Open in Missoula, Mont. on Friday, Aug. 25, starting their journey for a National Title.