Volleyball 2021 Preview- Blue/Gold Scrimmage Game

Here is a take on the first Women’s Volleyball scrimmage by our own Ann B.

Pitt volleyball had their Blue/Gold Scrimmage on Saturday. Teams were divided up with experienced talent spread between the two sides.

Gold Team:

Lexis Akeo (JR-setter)

Valeria Vazquez Gomez (R-SO -Outside Hitter)

Chinaza Ndee (5Y- Right Side)

Anastasia Russ (R-SO- Middle Blocker)

Jordan Lockwood (SR- Outside Hitter)

Rachel Fairbanks (FR- Setter)

Emmy Klinka (FR- Libero/Defensive Specialist)

Makayla Jackson (FR- Middle Blocker)

Blue Team:

Cat Flood (SO- Outside Hitter)

Ashley Browske (JR- Libero/Defensive Specialist)

Kylee Levers (GR- Setter)

Sabrina Starks (SR- Middle Blocker)

Leketor Member-Meneh (SR- Outside Hitter)

Eliana Posada (FR- Right Side)

Chiamaka Nwokolo (JR- Middle Blocker/Right Side)

Serena Gray (SR- Middle Blocker)

Kayla Lund (GR-Outside Hitter)

Scoring was the usual way- sets were played to 25, win by 2, except sets 4 and 5 were played to 15.  The gold team beat the blue team 3 sets to 2 by scores of 25-21, 25-22, 19-25, 14-16, 15-11.

Here are my thoughts and unofficial stats on each player ( I was talking to the parent of one of the players and missed a few plays and may have given credit to the wrong person). Note that although I consider myself semi-educated in the volleyball world, I am in no way an expert in evaluation of talent. So much of how a player performs has do with the players around them, the familiarity they have with each other, especially the middle blocker/setter connection. It is early in the pre-season- they just finished the first week of practice.

Gold Team

Lexis Akeo– Experienced Setter from the past 2 years. Undersized at 5’8”, but is a very solid player. Lexis played well, as expected.

Valeria Vazques Gomez– A solid starter from last year and a six-rotation outside hitter. Valeria looked great on offense and defense, with 10 kills and 1.5 blocks.

Chinaza Ndee– Six-rotation right side hitter and a second team All-American last year, along with a long list of other performance and academic awards. Chi picked up where she left off in April and played great. Unofficially 18 kills, 4.5 blocks, 1 ace.

Anastasia Russ– A backup middle blocker from last year had four kills and three blocks. At 6’5”, she’s the tallest player on the team but seems lanky and slow on attacking the ball. Played locally for Hampton HS.

Jordan Lockwood– Solid outside hitter who transferred in last year. Jordan had 14 kills, 1.5 blocks, and one ace for a very good performance. She’s come a long way in a year.

Emmy Klika– Freshman libero. Played way better than I would expect from a freshman. Very active on the court, moved well, had many really nice digs on rocket shots hit at her. I expect her to do very well here.

Rachel Fairbanks- Freshman setter, shared setting duties with Lexis Akeo. She was not as accurate as Lexis and played like a freshman- some good and some needing improvement.

Makayla Jackson– Freshman middle blocker, five kills, 2.5 blocks. This local player (Plum HS), had some very nice plays, offensively and defensively. I think she will be a good one as she gets used to the speed of the game.

Blue Team

Cat Flood- Sophomore backup outside hitter last season. I have her at seven kills, one block, one ace. She had difficulty hitting past a single block (who happened to be Chinaza Ndee, so maybe I should give her a pass). She needs more time to develop, and luckily, should not be needed to step in to a starter’s position anytime soon.

Ashley Browske– Junior starting libero from last season. Ashley played well by covering the floor quickly and made a lot of very good defensive plays, picking up where she left off this spring.

Kylee Levers– Graduate starting setter from last year. Local talent who played like an experienced player should. No complaints here.

Sabrina Starks– Senior starting middle blocker from last year. With five kills, three blocks and one ace, she played a solid match. Plays in the front line only.

Leketor Member-Meneh– Senior outside hitter who transferred in from Missouri. At 5’8”, I was skeptical of her ability to play. Boy was I wrong. She got my vote for outstanding player of the game. With 22 kills and 2.5 blocks, she plays WAY bigger than her size. She’s a powerful hitter from the front and back rows, and has amazing hops. She is going to be FUN to watch!

Eliana Posada– Freshman right side, plays in the front line only. I don’t have any stats for her which is not unusual for a freshman. I really did not see her involved in a lot of plays.

Chiamaka Nwokolo– A junior middle blocker from last season, Chi played right side on Saturday and played well. She started out slowly in the first set and got stronger as the match went on, finishing with15 kills and .5 blocks.

Serena Gray– Senior middle blocker who transferred in from Penn State. A two time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention who was a starter for the Nitters. Finished with 11 kills, one block and three aces. She’s a very powerful hitter and plays in the front row only. She would have had better stats but this is one of the instances where the setter/middle blocker relationship needs time to gel a bit. She’ll be very fun to watch and a dominant net player once she has some practice time with Kylee.

Kayla Lund– Most decorated player in Pitt’s Volleyball history with academic and athletic performance awards too numerous to mention. DID NOT PLAY, as she was limping around with what looked like a bad left knee. I don’t know the seriousness of the injury, and the parent I was talking to had not heard about the injury beforehand. Fingers crossed that she’ll be ready for regular season play.

The scrimmage was very well-played. There were a few missed serves, but early in the season that is to be expected. Players aren’t usually in game condition yet, so that also will contribute to misses. Volleys were fast-paced and really competitive, with players diving after balls and making some incredible plays. I found myself saying “Wow” A LOT. I am really looking forward to this season.

Also, the Field House looked great. Tarping at the ends of the court was really nice, and it looked like they got a new court floor. Everyone except the players and coaches had to wear masks, and the first couple of rows by the court were roped off to keep the fans away from the players. Seating was on one side of the court only.

If you are in town, support the ladies and watch them play this fall! H2P!!

Coach Fisher tweeted on Saturday