Pitt volleyball faced a tough matchup against rival No. 8 Georgia Tech in Atlanta Friday night, but demolished their opponent in a straight sweep to stay top of the ACC.
The Panthers (22-4 overall, 13-2 ACC) defeat the Yellow Jackets (21-4 overall, 12-3 ACC) for the fifth straight victory in the all-time series and unbeaten in the past four matches over the past two seasons. It improves the Panthers’ record in the all-time series to 15-2, 15-1 in since joining the ACC in 2013 and 7-0 on the road. It is also the first sweep for the Panthers over the Yellow Jackets since March 2021 and the first in Atlanta since November 2018, five years ago.
Pitt started out with a 10-0 run, thanks to great serving from redshirt senior outside hitter Valeria Vazquez Gomez. First-year in outside hitter Torrey Stafford and right side hitter Olivia Babcock also excelled during the run, with Stafford making four kills and Babcock having a kill and two block assists.
The Yellow Jackets would cut into the Panthers’ lead to 14-9, but the Panthers didn’t relent, increasing the lead to 20-11 before winning the set, 25-13.
Pitt fell behind initially in the second set, but some good serving from senior outside hitter Cat Flood and two aces for Babcock, earned them an 8-4 lead. Georgia Tech would score a point, but then Pitt would counter with two or three consecutive points to increase the lead through the rest of the set, which eventually led to a 25-14 win For Pitt.
Despite dominating the first two sets, the Yellow Jackets started off the better of the two teams in the third set, with leads of 8-4, 12-8 and 16-12. A rare service error from the Division I leader in service aces per set in Yellow Jackets junior outside hitter Bianca Bertolino gave the Panthers a great opportunity to change the set in their favor.
Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Dillyn Griffin is the secondary service specialist behind Flood. She came in following that service error from Bertolino and excelled from the service line. Using her southpaw, dipping serve, she served nine straight times with two aces and an 8-1 run for the Panthers to take a 21-17 lead. Griffin, who came in with just two service aces prior to this match in 2023, had her best performance of the season with that serving run.
Pitt would eventually close the match, winning that third set 25-19 to earn the sweep in complete dominance over one of the best teams in the country.
The sweep marks six straight sets that the Panthers have won against the Yellow Jackets. The Panthers made a reverse sweep against the Yellow Jackets on Oct. 6 at home, to defeat them in five sets.
Pitt once again controlled the match at the net, beating Georgia Tech with nine total blocks to two. They also had a much more effective offensive attack, hitting .440 and held Georgia Tech to an .057 hitting percentage, third and second best against an ACC opponent this season, respectively.
Babcock had one of her best games this season, as she led Pitt volleyball with 15 kills and had an incredible .652 hitting percentage. She was also second with four total blocks, had three digs and tied with Griffin for two services aces, best on Pitt.
Stafford finished second with 10 kills for the Panthers, while hitting .364, while adding four digs and two total blocks. Junior setter Rachel Fairbanks had a good match herself, leading the Panthers with 33 assists and eight digs.
Graduate student middle blocker Emma Monks had eight total blocks for Pitt and hit 1.000, with six kills on six total attacks. Those eight total blocks are the second highest for Monks in a match this season.
While the Yellow Jackets had a poor match against the Panthers, Bertolino performed well above her teammates. She led the Yellow Jackets with 13 kills, seven digs, .579 hitting percentage and two service aces.
Pitt volleyball will take on another great ACC rival when they battle it out with No. 5 Louisville next Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Petersen Events Center.