Here is another well researched and written article on the Women’s Volleyball team’s progress through the tournament sent in by John in SC…
Pitt women’s volleyball’s next test in the NCAA tournament is PAC-12 winner the Washington Huskies. Washington has a 19-3 record. Their three losses were to Arizona State, #15 UCLA, and # 16 Oregon. They also beat all three teams in their two-match series. The other wins over ranked teams were two wins over #10 Utah by the scores of 3-0 and 3-1. Washington is ranked #7 and was seeded #6 in the tournament.
As of this writing of the five teams from the PAC-12 in the tournament only Washington remains in the tournament. Four of the five teams were seeded. The three teams went down in the second round. Oregon got eliminated in the third round by #7 seed Purdue.
Washington has been pushing their luck in the tournament. Dayton took them to 5 sets. Washington won the first 2 sets, lost the next 2 sets, and won the last set 15-11. Washington just barely beat Louisville. Washington won the first and fourth sets, with Louisville winning sets two and three. After beating Louisville 25-14 in the fourth set, Washington got off to a horrible start in the fifth set down 5-0. They would also be down by 7-1 and 10-4 in the set.
Louisville unfortunately fell apart and lost the set and therefore the match by a score of 15-13. Washington and Louisville played their match on the same court after the Pitt victory over Minnesota so they have about 3 hours less rest ahead of the match than Pitt.
Here are the some of the awards the Huskies have received this year. #7 Ella May Powell, 6’0”, was named PAC-12 Setter of the year. Head Coach Keegan Cook was named PAC-12 Coach of the year. In addition to Powell, #9 Samantha Drechsel, 6’4”, and #21 Claire Hoffman, 6’2”, were first team PAC-12. #1, Lauren Sanders, 6’4”, and #12 Marin Grote, 6’4”, were honorable mention. #18 Madi Endsley, 6’2”, made the All-Freshman team.
Washington’s hitting percentage is 0.256 while holding their opponents to 0.197. They average 2.6 blocks per set. They have 144 service aces to 198 service errors. Dreshel, Hoffman, and Endsley make their offense go. Between them they have 72% of the kills. Not surprisingly the Huskies only use one setter, Powell. Powell is third in digs on the team. Drechsel and Grote are their leading blockers with numerous of secondary blockers.
Pitt is again facing a very tall team that is well coached. They are not as battled tested as Minnesota. Washington is very resilient and poised in the face of great adversity. Louisville did us no favors by blowing the big lead in that last set. Washington now probably feels they are a team of destiny. With Pitt’s win over Minnesota, Washington will not be overconfident. Pitt is the talk of the tournament now!
So, what can Pitt due to win this match? In this match they need to concentrate on Drechsel and Hoffman. They need to serve at their setter, Powell, and target her with our hits. She cannot set if she has first contact. Others have tried this tactic as shown by Powell being third in digs.
Pitt again needs to communicate with the front line on who is across the net from them. They need to tool their hits against blocks and look for openings. They need to play as error free as possible. Louisville did not and lost.
Pitt just had the biggest win in the history of the program on Sunday with their victory over Minnesota. Pitt’s players were on an adrenaline high after the victory. Coach Fisher hopefully calmed them down. Hopefully they all came down from that natural high, crashed, and slept well. This is going to be crucial for Pitt to win. Pitt is no longer the hunter but the hunted. They cannot feel pressured. No one expected them to be in this spot. That is how they need to play, loose, but under control!
What are Pitt’s chances for victory? In a three set match Pitt wins. That means Pitt came out fast and Washington never recovered. I seriously doubt this happens. Pitt will probably come out flat given the emotional drain of the Minnesota win. I see this match going to four or five sets. In four sets Pitt has a 60% chance of victory. It is a coin toss, if it goes to five sets with only a 50% chance victory. I am counting on the calmness of Coach Fisher to carry over to his team and bring us to victory!
Hail to these fighting, scrappy Panthers!
Next Match: vs. Washington
4/19/2021 | Noon ET