Make that three sweeps in a row for Pitt volleyball.
After sweeping Montana and Texas Rio Grande Valley last weekend, No. 10 Pitt volleyball continued its hot steak and swept No. 15 Kentucky (25-14, 25-21, 25-22) in Lexington, Kentucky Friday night.
Pitt was a step ahead of Kentucky all night, leading the Wildcats in kills (41-31), hit percentage (.248-.084), aces (4-3), digs (42-37) and blocks (9-7) and committed fewer errors over the night.
NO. 15 WILDCATS TAMED IN THREE‼️ pic.twitter.com/kG01JfeS0Y
— Pitt Volleyball (@Pitt_VB) September 2, 2023
Pitt and Kentucky battled early in the first game of the match, but a Bre Kelley kill gave the Panthers a 9-7 advantage that would not be lost. Back-to-back Kentucky service errors grew the Pitt lead to 11-7, and Pitt would take six of the next eight points.
Five Kentucky errors, and two timeouts, helped Pitt grow the lead. And an eventual Valeria Vazquez Gomez kill, assisted by Rachel Fairbanks, earned a 25-14 first game win.
The second game was another close battle, with Pitt and Kentucky trading points all the way up to a Torrey Stafford kill, assisted again by Fairbanks, giving Pitt a 16-15 lead.
An attack error from Kentucky’s Emma Grome and another kill from Stafford, with yet another Fairbanks assist, pushed the lead to 18-15. A Wildcats timeout was called, followed by a Molly Tuozzo service error, but the Panthers rebounded with another run.
An Olivia Baback kill, with an assist from Fairbanks, of course, set Pitt up with a game point, and an attack error from Kentucky’s Erin Lamb resulted in a 25-21 win in the second set.
The third set was another battle, with Pitt and Kentucky trading points in the early going, until Kentucky attack errors, which sandwiched an Olivia Babcock kill, pushed Pitt’s lead to 13-10.
Pitt held the lead throughout the latter stages of the third game, with a Rachel Jepson kill ending a mini Wildcats run — forcing a timeout. Kentucky would take two additional points, leading to a 23-22 game, but Pitt took the final two points.
An attack error from Kentucky’s Megan Wilson set up a match point, and a Vazquez Gomez kill gave Pitt the 25-22 game win and match win in three sets.
Right-side hitter Babcock set a career-high with 11 kills, leading the way with an outrageous .500 hitting percentage, and she added a dig and two blocks.
Emmy Kilka set a career-high with 18 digs, adding five assists from the defensive specialist position, and setter/outside hitter Fairbanks led the way with a season-high 24 assists, adding four kills, seven digs and three blocks of her own.
Setter Haiti Tautua’s set a season — and career-high — of eight digs, adding nine assists of her own, and middle blocker Rachel Jepson recorded four kills and four blocks in the win.
Middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo missed her third straight game Friday, and Blaire Bayless didn’t play against Kentucky, her first missed game of the season. Defensive specialist Logan Mosley and outside hitter Julianna Dalton also missed their second straight game each.
Pitt will now head back to Pittsburgh to host Kentucky in the second half of the home-and-home on Sunday, Sept. 3 at the Petersen Events Center. The match is scheduled to begin at noon.