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Pitt Basketball Shows Love to Pitt Volleyball Ahead of Top 10 Match



Pitt Basketball head coach Jeff Capel

PITTSBURGH — Pitt basketball has had a good start to the 2023-24 season, winning all three of its games against NC A&T last Monday, Binghamton last Friday and Florida Gulf Coast on Monday.

During that time, they’ve also provided some support off the court for Pitt volleyball, another successful program within the athletic department. No. 7 Pitt will face off against rival No. 4 Louisville Saturday, 1 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center, the same court that both men’s and women’s basketball teams play on.

Pitt volleyball is trying to break the attendance record for a match in program history. The previous record is 5,195 fans, who saw a brilliant five set match against rival Penn State on Sept. 22, 2019 at the Petersen Events Center that ended in favor of the road team.

The match against Louisville is one that a win will put either team in first place in the ACC standings. The game also has meaning with the winner making their chances greater to earn a No. 1 seed and host to the Final Four.

Pitt volleyball came to the FGCU game Monday night and conducted the t-shirt toss, with members of the coaching staff and players participating to promote the Louisville match.

Pitt basketball head coach Jeff Capel has also played a role in helping volleyball, putting out a statement on Twitter to try and get fans to come and watch the top 10 matchup.

Capel has shared a relationship with Pitt volleyball head coach Dan Fisher since he arrived in 2018. Fisher has led the program to eight straight NCAA Tournaments, four ACC titles, three straight Elite Eights and back-t0-back Final Fours, giving the two time and much to discuss when it comes to winning.

Pitt basketball, despite a difficult start with Capel, turned around last season thanks to veteran leadership and great transfers. They made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 and won multiple NCAA Tournament games for the first time since the Elite Eight team in 2009.

The relationship between Capel and Fisher is one that Capel believes is important for building a winning culture within Pitt athletics. He also leans on Fisher’s experience, who started as head coach in 2013 and took time to build Pitt volleyball into what it is today.

“Dan [Fisher] and I have had a good relationship since I’ve been here,” Capel said Wednesday at the Petersen Events Center. “Obviously, they’ve been the winningest program here at Pitt and Pitt Athletics. I mean, what he has done has been amazing. So having the chance to talk with him and pick his brain about how he did it when he got here and it’s important for the teams to be good…”

Pitt Basketball freshman guard Jaland Lowe is a familiar face around Pitt volleyball matches. Along with High Point transfer and redshirt junior forward Zack Austin, they are a constant presence at Fitzgerald Field House for their matches.

Lowe loves watching his fellow student-athletes compete on the court and has a great time supporting one of the best teams in the country. He knows the two star freshmen, in right side hitter Olivia Babcock, who received National Player of the Week Award honors, as well as outside hitter Torrey Stafford, who has numerous ACC Freshman of the Week honors herself. So, there’s not doubt he will attend Saturday’s match and cheer on the Panthers.

“I will be there,” Lowe said. “I mean, they are fun to watch. I know a couple, I know the two freshmen on the team. It’s really fun to watch volleyball. I did not know, from being a down-south kid, that Pitt volleyball in the last couple of years has been really, really good. So when I came here and I found that out, I had to be there and they’re just really fun to watch and the crowd’s amazing and they’re just really good.”

Capel loves the respect his players show for other Pitt teams and said the players put it on themselves to show up and support. The bonds between different student-athletes throughout Pitt is something that Capel admires from his team and pointed out the importance in those relationships in building a winning culture on campus.

“…You know, I love coming to other sporting events here and seeing our guys there,” Capel said. “And it’s not something we make them do, it’s something that they want to do to support. They have relationships with them, they have a common bond with them and so I love other teams being successful. I think it helps all of us be successful.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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