No. 6 Pitt volleyball bounced back after a loss to Florida State in five sets on Friday, with a victory over Miami in four sets on the road Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers (21-4 overall, 12-2 ACC) improve their record to 14-4 all-time against the Hurricanes (16-8 overall, 9-5 ACC) and increase their winning streak in the series to 11 matches. The win also keeps the Panthers on top of the ACC, along with the No. 3 Louisville Cardinals, the No. 10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Seminoles, a four-way tie for first place.
Pitt dominated Miami in the first set, starting out with an 11-1 lead, increasing it to 17-4 and then finishing the set off with a 25-15 victory. Pitt held Miami to a -.034 hitting percentage in that first set, demonstrating their defensive dominance.
The second set saw both teams keep it much closer than the previous one, trading points back and forth and tied at 15 midway. The Panthers built small leads of 17-15, 18-16 and 19-17, but Miami came back to tie it at 19. Pitt then built another lead of 22-20, but Miami once again tied it, this time at 23. First-year outside hitter Torrey Stafford and graduate student middle blocker Chiamaka Nwokolo had back-to-back kills to win the second set, 25-23, and take a two set to nothing lead in the match.
Miami started as the better of the two teams in the third set, as they broke an 11-11 deadlock and scored five straight points, leading to Pitt head coach Dan Fisher taking both timeouts.
Pitt would respond by scoring five straight points themselves to make it level at 18. Miami then built small leads of 20-18, 22-20 and 24-22, but Pitt stayed in the set, tying it up at 24. Miami first-year outside hitter Grace Lopez made a kill and then Pitt first-year right side hitter Olivia Babcock committed an attack error, allowing Miami to win the set, 26-24.
The Panthers played better than the Hurricanes through a large part of the fourth set, building leads of 13-9 and 18-11 at its biggest. The Hurricanes did not give up at all, battling back on a 11-4 run to tie the set up at 22. The two teams traded the next two points, before Stafford made a kill and then Lopez made a crucial attack error, allowing Pitt to win the set, 25-23, and the match.
Babcock led Pitt volleyball with 18 kills against the Hurricanes, four service aces, while also joining junior libero/defensive specialist Emmy Klika with a team-high eight digs in the victory. Those service aces are the most for her this season, her eight digs tie her season high against Louisville on Oct. 13 and her 18 kills are third most in 2023.
Stafford finished second on Pitt with 12 kills, while her four total blocks was third best on the team. Redshirt junior outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomes had a solid game for the Panthers, with her 10 kills ranking third best on the team and her .300 hitting percentage second best.
Fairbanks made a career-high 48 assists in the victory over the Hurricanes, five more than her previous high of 43 against NC State at home last season. She also finished third, along with Stafford, with seven digs.
Graduate student middle blocker Emma Monks led Pitt with seven total blocks, while Nwokolo led with a .538 hitting percentage. Nwokolo’s five total blocks also was second most, along with Babcock who also had five.
Lopez starred for the Hurricanes, recording 24 kills in the loss, a season high.
Pitt volleyball will go back on the road next weekend, facing off against rival No. 10 Georgia Tech on Friday at 5 p.m. The early start time is due to the ACC Network broadcasting the game live.