No. 8 Pitt volleyball suffered a difficult five set loss to No. 7 Oregon on Thursday, but rebounded Saturday night with a dominant sweep of James Madison in the Panther Challenge at Fitzgerald Field House.
The Panthers (7-2) are now 5-0 all-time over the Dukes (7-4) with the previous matchup coming in 1999. It is also the first win of the season at the Fitzgerald Field House for the Panthers, who won their first home match of the season at the Petersen Events Center over then ranked No. 15 Kentucky on Sept. 3.
Pitt got out to a great start, starting out on a 10-3 run, increasing it to 20-7 and winning the first set 25-14.
The Dukes initially kept it close in the second set, down just 8-6, but the Panthers went on a 6-1 run to make it 14-7 and then went on to take the set, 25-15.
The third set saw Pitt have one of its best set wins ever, starting out with a 15-1 advantage and winning the set, 25-8, and the match.
Pitt finished with an incredible .557 hitting percentage in the match, their best of the season.
First-year right side hitter Olivia Babcock had a season-high hitting percentage of .562, while also leading the Panthers with 10 kills. She also had four digs and finished second on the team with four total blocks.
Redshirt senior outside hitter Valeria Vasquez Gomez had eight kills on nine attacks for an .889 hitting percentage, while also making four digs and two total blocks. Fellow outside hitter in first-year Torrey Stafford had similar stats in eight kills, four digs and two total blocks.
Graduate middle blockers in Chiamaka Nwokolo and Emma Monks also starred for Pitt. Nwokolo had eight kills and a career high .700 hitting percentage, while Monks led Pitt with seven total blocks and providing six kills.
First-year setter Haiti Tautua’a led with 21 assists, while fellow setter in graduate Lexis Akeo had 10 assists as well. Junior setter Rachel Fairbanks did not play against James Madison.
Panthers junior libero/defensive specialist Emmy Klika led once again in digs, with 15 against the Dukes.
Pitt volleyball finishes the Panther Challenge with match against High Point on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1:00 p.m. at home.