Pitt vs BYU Round 2 in the 2’nd Round

Another excellent article by my fellow South Carolinian John Demko (John in South Carolina).

Pitt’s 2nd round opponent in the tournament this year is BYU which defeated James Madison in the 1st round.  Pitt is 2-1 all-time versus BYU.  Pitt has played them once this year and once last year.  Last year Pitt defeated BYU at the Fitz 3-1.  That was BYU’s only regular season loss in 2021.  This year Pitt played BYU at their facility.  Below is my summary of the match posted on the blog.

“On Saturday evening the BYU’s gym was packed for the match against Pitt.  To be successful against BYU Pitt had to press them at the net and keep them out of system.  Pitt did exactly that and defeated BYU 3-1.  Pitt also played great back row defense led by Browske with 17 digs followed closely by Fairbanks with 16.  Fairbanks had one of her double doubles as she had 30 assists followed by Cam Ennis with 23.  This defeat ended BYU’s home 30-match home win streak that went back to 2019.”

In the match Pitt hit 0.260 versus BYU .260.  Pitt out blocked BYU 12-10 as well as out hit them 61 to 59.  Akeo did not play in the match.  Vazquez Gomez led the Panthers in kills with 16 followed by Buzzerio with 15 and Dalton with 12.  Livingston led BYU with 20 kills followed by Llarenas with 10 and Gneiting with 9.

BYU went on to a 21-6 regular season record.  Their other losses were to Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Pacific, and twice to San Diego.  BYU only won one set overall against San Diego and were swept by both Georgia Tech and Ohio State.  As a reminder, Pitt defeated Georgia Tech twice and swept Ohio State.  We lost our 1st match of the season to San Diego in 5 sets.

BYU overall is hitting 0.297 versus their opponents 0.178.  They have 135 serve aces versus 167 serve errors.  They have 2.41 blocks per set and 13.42 digs per set.

BYU runs a 5-1 offense.  This means their setter will be on the front line 3 of the 6 rotations.  It also means their middles will slide to either corner to attack some of the time.  Both of BYU setters are 5’9” which is on the small side.

BYU has only one main outside hitter.  She is #10 6’2” junior Erin Livingston who leads the team in kills with 404.  The next best kill total for an outside is 124.  Erin is also a six-rotation player.  BYU strength is their middles.  Their primary middle is #2 6’5” senior Heather Gneiting who is second on the team in kills with 229 to go along with her team leading 122 blocks at a 1.22 blocks per set pace.  BYU second middle is #21 6’3” sophomore Whitney Llarenas.  She has 207 kills to go along with her 88 blocks at a 0.96 blocks per set.  Either due to injury or just because she is a better overall player than BYUs outside hitters, BYU has been using a third middle blocker lately in their matches.  She is #1 6’4” freshman Kate Prior.  She did not play against Pitt earlier this year.

BYU placed four players on the first team All-West Coast Conference team.  They are Livingston, Gneiting, Llarenas, and #7 5’9” senior setter Whitney Bower.  BYU also had two honorable mentions in #16 5’8” graduate student libero Kelsey Knudsen and Prior.  Prior also was named to the All-freshman team.

What are the keys to defeating BYU?  BYU’s only attackers are their middles and Livingston.   When Livingston is in the back row, attack her with the serves and kills from the front of the net to wear her down.  When she is in the front, press her at the net.  Buzzerio should be able to handle her one on one.

When the BYU setter is at the net, there are only two attackers on the front line.  Pitt’s outsides need to pinch in when the BYU middle stays home and attacks from the middle.  When the BYU middle slides, our middle needs to move with her.

When Pitt is attacking and the BYU setter is on the net, attack over the setter.  We have a big height advantage.  Make the BYU middle blockers move a lot laterally at the net.  Pitt needs to also move the ball from corner to corner on the net to prevent the middles from cheating to one side all the time.  If I was BYU, I would cheat my middles to Buzzerio’s side when she is on the front line.  This means more of the scoring burden will fall on Vazquez Gomez and Dalton from either the left side or the back row.  To keep the BYU’s middles honest, we also need to attack quickly in the middle as we usually do.  One on one, BYU’s middles will be more of a problem as they are big and athletic.

I see this match going to four or five sets with Pitt winning the match.  All sets will be decided by five points or less.

Due to the quick turnaround between rounds, my comments about Pitt’s 1st round match will be in the comments.

Kancey ACC Defender of the Year

November 30, 2022​

Pitt’s Calijah Kancey Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year

PITTSBURGH—A highly decorated week for Pitt’s Calijah Kancey continued today with the announcement that the junior defensive tackle has been named the 2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Kancey is the second Pitt player to win the ACC’s top defensive honor. Tackle Aaron Donald was the Panthers’ initial honoree in 2013.

Six total Panthers have won an ACC Player or Rookie of the Year award during Pitt’s 10 seasons in the conference. Last season, Pitt boasted the ACC’s overall and offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Kenny Pickett, now of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is the latest recognition for Kancey, who earlier this week was named first team All-ACC for the second consecutive year. He additionally was selected a finalist for the prestigious Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s best interior lineman.

Kancey is also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player. Pro Football Focus named him a first team All-American.

The 6-foot, 280-pound Kancey (Miami, Fla./Miami Northwestern) has been one of college football’s most dominant players regardless of position this season. He compiled 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games played.

Kancey spearheads a Pitt defense that leads the country in sacks (3.75 avg.), ranks seventh nationally against the run (95.5 avg.) and ranks 19th in fewest total yards allowed (319.7 avg.).

Kancey is the first tackle to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year since Donald in 2013 and only the third all-time since the inaugural year of the award in 1993.

“I am extremely thankful and humbled to receive this incredible honor from the ACC,” Kancey said. “I share this award with all of my teammates and coaches. They make me better every day, on and off the field. I’m so proud to wear the Blue and Gold with them.”

“Calijah has been absolutely outstanding all season long and is highly deserving of this honor,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “As both a run stopper and rushing the passer, he has been tremendous. On behalf of our entire program, I want to congratulate Calijah on receiving this award. He has absolutely earned it.”  

PITT’S ALL-TIME ACC MAJOR AWARD WINNERS

ACC Player of the Year

2014, James Conner, RB

2021, Kenny Pickett, QB

ACC Offensive Player of the Year

2014, James Conner, RB

2021, Kenny Pickett, QB

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

2013, Aaron Donald, DT

2022, Calijah Kancey, DT

ACC Rookie of the Year

2015, Jordan Whitehead, S; Qadree Ollison, RB (co-winners)

ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year

2015, Qadree Ollison, RB

ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

2015, Jordan Whitehead, S

ACC Brian Piccolo Award (Most Courageous Player)

2016, James Conner, RB

Pitt’s Women Volleyball; 2022 NCAA Playoffs

Here is another very in-depth article by John Demko (John in South Carolina) about our Women’s Volleyball Team who are heading into the post-season NCAA tournament as the 6th seed!!

Pitt’s ACC co-champion women’s volleyball team continue their season this weekend as they play in their seventh consecutive NCAA women’s volleyball tournament.  They were named the 2nd seed in the Wisconsin led bracket.  Overall, they were the 6th highest seeded team in the tournament.

This is Pitt’s highest seeding in the NCAA tournament.  It is their 18th overall trip to the tournament.  Under Coach Fisher Pitt has won eleven NCAA tournament matches.  Prior to “Fish” Pitt had a total of two wins.  Last year Pitt made it to the Final Four for the first time.  In 2020 Pitt made it to their first Elite Eight.

Pitt will host the first and second rounds of the tournament.  Pitt’s first match will be against the Colgate Raiders on Friday, December 2nd, at 7 PM in the Petersen Events Center.  The winner of this match will face the winner of the preceding match between #7 seed BYU and James Madison.  The second-round match will start at 7 PM on Saturday, December 3rd, in the Petersen Events Center.

The ACC placed five teams in the tournament.  Louisville, Pitt’s ACC co-champion, is one of the #1 seeds.  Georgia Tech is a #5 seed.  Florida State and Miami are #7 seeds.

Pitt’s first opponent in the tournament, Colgate, is the champion of the Patriot League which includes Army and Navy.  Pitt and Coach Fisher are 1-0 versus the Raiders with a sweep on 9/5/2015.  Colgate and Pitt have played one common opponent, NC State.  Colgate got swept by NC State at NC State.  Pitt defeated NC State at the Fitz in four sets.  Colgate other losses were to Villanova, Southern Cal, Navy, and Army.

Colgate is surprisingly tall for a lower conference champion.  They play a 6-2 offense like Pitt’s offensive scheme.  Another similarity is that one of their setters is a six-rotation player and is an important part of Colgate’s front-line offense.

In a comparison of team offensive statistics Colgate hits at 0.260 versus their opponents 0.188.  Pitt’s numbers are 0.268 versus 0.151.  Colgate does not have a good service ace to error ratio with 153 aces versus 242 errors.  Pitt’s numbers are 152 aces versus 158 errors.  Pitt has an advantage in all offensive categories.

In team defense Colgate has 14.28 digs/set along with 1.98 blocks/set.  Pitt has 13.1 digs/set to go with 2.6 blocks/set.  Colgate has more digs per set than Pitt, but Pitt is the better blocking team.  Pitt had more sweeps than Colgate with more lopsided scores.  This could easily account for the difference in digs per set.

Continue reading “Pitt’s Women Volleyball; 2022 NCAA Playoffs”