No. 5 Pitt Volleyball controlled their match against University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Sunday afternoon, getting their second straight sweep to end the Ellesyn Invitational in Missoula, Mont.
The Panthers (2-1) finish the weekend with two straight wins, defeating the Montana Grizzlies on Saturday and then the Vaqueros (1-2) Sunday. This was also the first matchup ever between the two schools.
UTRGV battled with Pitt early on in the first set, holding an 11-9 advantage. Pitt would comeback to take the lead themselves on an 8-1 run, 17-12, but UTRGV would battle to cut into that lead, 19-17. Pitt eventually finished off UTRGV with a 6-2 run to win the set, 25-19.
The Panthers jumped out to a 8-3 lead to begin the second set. The Vaqueros tried to cut into the lead, but the Panthers wouldn’t have less than a four-point advantage the rest of the way and won the set 25-18.
Pitt looked like they’d run away with the third set, starting out with a 10-5 lead, but UTRGV went on a 7-1 run to take a 12-11 lead. Both teams found themselves level at 15, but Pitt would score the next seven points and then finish off the set and the match on a 10-1 run, 25-16.
First-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford led the Panthers with 10 kills, her first double-digit kill match and the second straight match she’s led the team in kills. She also had a .261 hitting percentage, four digs, two assists and two blocks in the win.
Redshirt senior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez had a great all-around match against UTRGV. She had nine kills, an impressive .538 hitting percentage and led Pitt with eight digs.
Sophomore middle blocker Rachel Jepsen has taken advantage of more time on the court, finishing first on the Panthers with six total blocks. She also made four kills and hit .667 in the win. Fellow middle blocker in Florida transfer and junior Bre Kelley also dominated at the net, making six kills, four total blocks and hitting .556.
First-year right-side hitter Olivia Babcock had a season-high eight kills in the victory, hit .333 and made four total blocks. Junior setter Rachel Fairbanks led with 20 assists, while also making three kills and three total blocks.
Graduate middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo missed her second straight match against the Vaqueros. Junior outside hitter Julianna Dalton and Michigan State grad transfer Emma Monks both missed their first match of the season, as well.
Pitt Volleyball takes on No. 10 Kentucky next weekend in a home-and-away series. They’ll travel to Lexington, Ky. for the first match at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1 and then come back to play at the Petersen Events Center at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3.