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Pitt Volleyball

No. 6 Pitt Volleyball Drops Match to Florida State in Five Sets



Pitt volleyball.

Pitt hadn’t lost in nearly a month before heading to Tallahassee, Fla. Friday, losing just three games in nearly two months, but the Panthers finally fell to Florida State.

Pitt dropped the first two sets at Tully Gymnasium in Tallahassee Friday night, and despite battling back to force a fifth set, the Panthers fell to the Seminoles in five sets — 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 14-16.

Despite outhitting (.190-.184) Florida State, racking up more kills (65-49), Pitt committed 32 attack errors and let up 13 services aces in a heartbreaking loss that could have lasting ACC implications.

Of course, it was a slow start for Pitt on the road Friday night.

Pitt and Florida State traded points throughout the early stages of the first game, with the Seminoles building an early 10-7 lead off a Khori Louis kill and a Valeria Vazquez Gomez attack error. And the Panthers were unable to close the deficit throughout the remainder of the first game — dropping game one 25-18.

Florida State took a 1-0 lead in the second game, courtesy of an Audrey Koenig kill, and the Panthers were able to battle to ties early, but the Seminoles were once again — often — one point ahead.

The Seminoles held a 14-12 lead midway through the second game, and an Olivia Babcock service error, kills from Louis and Audrey Rothman and an eventual Chiamaka Nwokolo error grew the Seminoles’ lead to six points.

And that was enough for Florida State to coast to a 25-21 second game win — putting the Panthers on the brink.

Pitt, once again, fell behind early in the second, trailing 0-2 and 2-4 and 3-6, but the Panthers rallied early with kills from Fairbanks and Emma Monk sandwiched around two Florida State attack errors. But the Seminoles battled back to tie the third game at 19.

The two sides traded points to a 23-23 deadlock, but a Seminoles’ attack error and Torrey Stafford kill clinched a 25-23 third game win for the Panthers.

The Seminoles took an early 1-0 lead in the fourth game, but the Panthers battled back with six straight points and eight of the next nine to build an early 8-2 lead. Florida State would close within a couple of points a couple of times, but another run (three straight Babcock kills and one more from Stafford) established a 17-10 lead.

And Pitt cruised to an essential fourth game win, closing out the Seminoles 25-18 to set up a winner-take-all fifth set.

A spirited match, of course, continued into the fifth set, with Pitt taking a big 10-7 lead off of kills from Babcock and Stafford, but the Seminoles fought back with a five point run to take a 13-11 lead. And despite tying the game at the crucial 14-14 point, the Seminoles took the next points to clinch a 16-14 game — and match — win.

Monks led the way with a solid .357 hitting percentage, the only Panther in the top five match-wide. Babcock led Pitt with 19 kills, followed closely by Stafford with 17, and Emmy Klika (13), Vazquez Gomez (12) and Rachel Fairbanks (11) led the Panthers in digs. Fairbanks was effective with a match-high 39 kills.

But, unfortunately for the Panthers, Pitt committed its fair share of errors on the way to the disappointing loss.

Pitt (20-4, 11-2) will remain in the Sunshine State through the weekend, traveling down to Coral Gables, Fla. to take on Miami in ACC play. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the Knight Sports Complex.

But with Louisville also losing Friday night, Pitt now sits in a four-way tie at the top of the ACC (alongside Louisville, Georgia Tech and Florida State).

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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