9/6/21: Status of Pitt’s Women’s Volleyball

Here is a great and detailed look at the Panther’s volleyball team from John in South Carolina…

This weekend the Pitt Panther Women’s Volleyball team finally get to play at home after winning their first five matches on the road.  So how are our Panthers doing so far after facings some tough competition?  They are undefeated!  They have won all five of their matches.  They are currently ranked in a tie for 4th in the AVCA poll this week.  Here is a recap of how they managed to get to that record and ranking in case you have not been paying attention.

The first weekend of the season Pitt traveled down to Columbia, South Carolina to participate in the Carolina Classic tournament.  Pitt, who was ranked at #9 in the preseason AVCA poll, took on #23 Rice in their season opener.  The match went to five sets after Rice won the 4th set.  Pitt got behind right from the start in the deciding 5th set that goes only to 15 points with the mandatory two-point win.  Pitt looked to start their season with a loss when they got behind 9-4. 

By that point in the set Pitt had used both of their timeouts and things looked fairly bleak.  Pitt furiously rallied at this point and tied the score at 13-13.  There was another tie at 14 before Pitt won the last two points, the set, and the match with a score of 16-14.  This match was an indicator of things to come the following weekend.

The second match of the weekend was a morning match the next day against #18 Washington State.  Pitt lost the first set of the match and were having some difficulty in the 2nd set when Coach Fisher made a change to his lineup.  Pitt won the next three sets and the match 3-1.

In the last and final match of the weekend Pitt played host South Carolina the evening of the same day of the Washington State match.  At the time Pitt played South Carolina, USC (east) was unranked.  Previous to their match USC had also defeated both Rice and Washington State on their home court.  Pitt using the same lineup that proved so lethal against WSU swept South Carolina 3-0.  South Carolina did make the last set very interesting as Pitt won it 25-23.  South Carolina entered the poll the next weekend and currently stand at #24 and are the 4th highest ranked SEC team.

After their showing at South Carolina Pitt moved up to #7 in the polls but there was some questioning their ranking based on the problems they had with Rice.  Rice fell out of the rankings after losing to both Pitt and South Carolina.

This past weekend Pitt traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee on a recon trip for our football team.  While there they decided to play #9 Baylor and the home town Volunteers.  Against Baylor Pitt again was forced into a 5th set.  Again, Coach Fisher made adjustment to his lineup as the match unfolded.  This time it was Pitt who had to win the 4th set to force the deciding 5th set. 

This time Pitt actually had one point leads at the beginning until things start going south right after the score was tied at 5-5.  Baylor ran off four straight points and Pitt found themselves down 5-9 against the #9 team in the nation.  After Pitt’s 2nd and last timeout Pitt rallied to tie the score at 9.  The lead then went back and forth until the score was tied at 11-11.  Pitt then ran off the last 4 points to win the set and match with a 15-11 score.

The next day Pitt faced hometown Tennessee.  Tennessee had beaten Baylor the day before Pitt’s win over them.  The home team was coming into the match with two days rest to Pitt’s single day.  Tennessee had been receiving votes in the polls prior to the weekend and were sure to enter the polls the following week regardless of the results against Pitt.  Tennessee proved to be a very worthy opponent giving Pitt everything they could handle. 

The match went to five sets after Tennessee won the fourth set Pitt was taken to 28-26 in the 3rd set.  Pitt and Tennessee slugged it out in the 5th set with the last tie being at 7-7.  Pitt took the lead for good at 8-7 and ran off the last three points to win the set and match at 15-10.  For their effort over this past weekend Tennessee was rewarded with a #23 ranking in the polls.  Tennessee is the third highest ranked SEC team in the polls.  Coach Fisher again juggled his lineup during the match using Pitt’s depth to his advantage.

So now that we have some matches played, how good are these Panthers?  Does this team have the potential of again making a run in the NCAA tournament?  To answer the first question our Panthers are very good.  All five of their opponents were either ranked when they played them or are currently ranked.  Coach Fisher has packed his pre-conference with tournament teams and they have responded well. 

The team also have shown a lot of grit, twice snatching victories when things looked pretty bleak.  Pitt has beaten the 3rd and 4th best teams in the SEC on their home courts.  They have beaten the 2nd best team in the Big 12 at a neutral site.

Last year Pitt barely missed making it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament.  If Washington had played this current team, Pitt would have won that match in 4 sets and would have made it to the Final Four.  I believe Pitt is a bona fide top four team in the nation.

How should Pitt do in the ACC?  There are only two other legitimate contenders for the ACC title beside Pitt.  We will know more about #10 Louisville after this weekend.  They play the best team in the SEC, #7 Florida first and then #6 Purdue from the Big 10.  Presently I believe they are the 2nd best team in the ACC. 

The 3rd best team is #21 Georgia Tech and is a sleeper team.  Ga. Tech has a win over then #12 Penn State.  They did lose to #16 UCLA this past weekend so they do have some weaknesses.  Pitt plays both of these teams twice under the new ACC scheduling criteria so the three of them will settle the title on the court.  Notre Dame that was ranked in the preseason has been a big disappointment this far into the season. 

Most of the rest of the ACC have been playing cupcakes in the preseason to pad their records or build team confidence.  Do not be fooled by their records as come conference time, the three top ACC teams put the standings in their correct order.

Pitt plays #13 BYU this weekend along with Bowling Green and High Point in the Panther Challenge.  BYU is going to be another stiff test for the Panthers.  All games are on the ACCDN.

54 thoughts on “9/6/21: Status of Pitt’s Women’s Volleyball



    September 11, 2021 • Noon, ET

    Neyland Stadium (102,455) • Knoxville, Tenn.

    ESPN • Pitt Panthers Radio Network

    LINK (PDF): Pitt Game Notes (vs. Tennessee)


    √ Pitt and Tennessee renew ties on the football field for the first time in 38 years when the Panthers visit Neyland Stadium. The game has been named the Johnny Majors Classic in honor of the legendary coach and player.

    √ This is the third meeting between the schools. The Panthers won both prior encounters: 13-3 in 1983 and 30-6 in 1980. Both of those contests were played in Knoxville.

    √ Both teams won their season openers last week. The Panthers rolled past Massachusetts, 51-7, while the Volunteers defeated Bowling Green, 38-6.

    √ Pitt is very familiar with first-year Vols coach Josh Heupel, who as head coach at UCF faced the Panthers twice. Pitt defeated UCF, 35-34, in 2019, while the Knights claimed a 45-14 win in 2018.

    √ Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 29 victories in ACC play, the fourth-highest win total during that span. The Panthers trail only Clemson (46), Miami (32) and Virginia Tech (30).

    √ With 272 yards vs. UMass, Kenny Pickett became just the fifth player in Pitt history to eclipse 8,000 yards passing. Pickett has thrown for 8,256 over his 40-game career.

    √ The Pitt pass rush perennially ranks among the nation’s best. The Panthers compiled 97 sacks over the 2019-20 seasons, the highest total in the country over those two years. Pitt had five sacks in its season-opening win over UMass.

    √ Pitt’s 2021 roster has 13 players designated as “super seniors.” Due to the pandemic, the NCAA did not count the 2020 season against a student-athlete’s eligibility clock.


    Television • ESPN

    Dave Pasch (play-by-play)

    Dusty Dvoracek (analyst)

    Tom Luginbill (field analyst)

    Pitt Radio • 93.7 The Fan & Pitt Panthers Radio Network

    Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play)

    Pat Bostick (analyst)

    Larry Richert (reporter)

    SiriusXM Satellite Radio

    XM Channel 384, SXM App Channel 974

    WPTS Radio (Pitt Student Station) • 92.1 FM

    Online Audio



    1. No, I will not be making the trip there. I did not even make it to the Columbia, SC which is a lot closer. Hopefully the football team will do well. Presently the ACC is doing horribly against other P5 teams.


  2. Nice work, John!

    I’m hoping this is the season where the Pitt women’s basketball team will start to make some noise – at least jump to the middle of the pack in the ACC. Coach White’s recruits will be juniors this season, so this is when it should happen.

    The key may be whether attack guard Day Harris can play consistently well – so far, she’s had extremes of very good and very bad even within games…

    A grad transfer center from Youngstown State, who’s from the Pittsburgh area, should help.

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unless there is a big leap from week 1 to week 2, I feel in my gut that we’ll be heading for a loss this weekend against the Vols, primarily because I don’t think our OL is where it needs to be yet, and our safeties scare me. Pickett is solid QB and will give us a chance; I do not take Kenny for granted, especially after watching the Penn St-Wisconsin game, as he is better than both of those QBs (Wisc QB is awful). But without a rushing attack to keep Vols honest, I just don’t like our odds. Hopefully I am wrong, but if I am correct, I’d fire Whipple and Borbs after this season, if not sooner. H2P

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I will be posting articles on both men’s and women’s basketball. Women’s BBall will be greatly improved. Not so much men’s!

    Love the fortitude, beauty and coaching of Pitt Volleyball and they’re learning how to win!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Women’s bb? I will watch if we make it to the NC game, at least for a few minutes, sorry will never be able to muster the interest, but I think it’s good that others enjoy the minor sports, it adds to the university identity and builds school spirit. I have a few minor sports of interest myself.

      I will look forward to the men’s hoops article. I expect a minor improvement this year.


      1. I’ve coached both men’s and women’s BB. I far prefer women’s. Their fundamentals are pure and their shooting skills overall far better than men’s! Men’s is all about one on one matchups, women’s is about “team”.

        Women seem to take more joy in playing the game. I suggest all of you watch a few games and give the sport a chance!

        Liked by 6 people

        1. I have tried watching (Pitt) women’s basketball several times, sorry, I just can’t stomach it. Best case scenario is they make the NC game, I can pick it up in the 4th quarter. I would watch if I had a daughter playing.


          1. Like anything, the women’s BB team is fun to watch when they’re good. They haven’t been good for a long while. Last decent year was Coach Suzie’s first year when she had senior point guard Brianna Kiesel. When Agnus was here that had some good teams with Shavonte Zellous – she was an impressive athlete.

            Coach Suzie’s awful recruiting put Pitt in a big hole that’s been tough to dig out of. There are some outstanding local high school players that all the good teams want. If a couple of them want to stay home for a change, Pitt could become very good quick.

            Go Pitt.


  5. Thanks John, GREAT JOB! I use to love to play volleyball at picnics and such and understand the game fairly well. Love watching these girls play. Heather should be proud.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Excellent article, John! Getting a top 10 ranking in any sport is a significant accomplishment. It begins with the minor sports, and the pressure then grows on the majors to do likewise. I wonder how wrestling will do this year after such good recruiting. They seem to have the talent to compete with anyone. Still wondering about men’s soccer though, since they have so much talent returning.

    I’m anxiously waiting on Dan’s BB report! My initial feeling is that they will be somewhat better than predicted, and a NIT invitation seems like a reasonable target to pursue. If several minors end up with ranked seasons, if football gets 9 wins and a good bowl opportunity, and the basketball team gets a NIT bid, well then I think Heather is doing a pretty good job. But can she take FB and BB to the next level??

    I listened to her interview with 93.7 on Bickell’s huge donation, and was struck by her comments in which she backed off from saying Pitt football would move to a higher level. She caught herself and basically said Pitt would be able to continue its objective of winning football. Look at how they intend to spend the money. Improving the weight room and dietary areas is not going to get it done. I don’t think they know how to get to the next level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the problem in Men’s BBall is coaching or talent.
      It’s that we play in the ACC a very unique conference with the best talent of any conference in the USA! In addition, Pitt is always at a huge disadvantage on the ACC road due to homer officials and active fans.

      I think we are 3 good recruiting classes away from being in the upper tier of the ACC. A tall center who can alter shots and be an offensive threat and an ACC quality point guard would be a good start.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. I don’t know what to expect this week against the Vols, but I like having a game like this after a tune-up type game. Should be some good “lessons learned” from the opener, like covering a fumble. And if we could only get the “drops” down into single digits… 😊

    The Volunteers will have better athletes and are sure to make several big plays on us (our defensive strategy leads to big plays when we don’t “get there”). We need to score 5 touchdowns, IMHO.

    Good preparation for going into VT country next month…

    Go Pitt.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah, Heupel had his guys at UCF throwing a great deep ball. Lots of air under it so no one could catch it but the WR…

        Hoping Battle is a fast learner…

        Go Pitt.


  8. I listened to a clip of some UT radio guy previewing the game against Pitt this weekend. One major theme of the preview was that Vols Nation was not happy at all with how their QB played against Bowling Green. I think the quote was something like “if Milton plays against Pitt the way he did in the first half against Bowling Green, it’s going to be a long afternoon.” I gotta say, that makes me fairly optimistic. I think the Pitt defense can handle itself well against a team that’s struggling in the passing game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Only problem is that QBs tend to get a fire under their butt against the Panthers. 😊

      I guess our depth on the Dline and at LB should help against the hurry-up. Problem is that our DB depth is inexperienced, though we have some young athletes who look promising – just not for this game…

      Go Pitt.


      1. Look for Tennessee to play 3 QB’s if Milton struggles to connect with the passing game. The hot hand will torch, I mean throw over the top and Milton will mix in his runs to keep the Pitt D off balance.

        John in SC, enjoyed the summary article. It feels like this team is destined to win big, and they have in the non-conference portion of the season, which has been a tremendous character building time.

        Looking for some character building on the FB field in the coming weeks. Without a run game, we are in trouble – sorry to say.


        Liked by 2 people

  9. Loved all the positive comments and not just about the volleyball team. By the way, the girls are playing great.
    So nice to read realistic constructive comments. Not all cool aid or the constant beating negative stuff. Good job guys!

    Liked by 5 people

  10. We’re in OC on vacation for the week. Checked in with 5 families from Bethel Park. Nice to see more Pitt and Steelers shirts in OC MD.

    Very nice people as are all Pittsburghers! I didn’t tell them I went to Baldwin (35-0 losers to BP Friday night!)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I wonder if Camp will fake a leg cramp as he did in 2018, which earned him POV’s Public Enemy No. 1 for a short while. It was incredible all the diatribe toward the Keyshon and Narduzzi in that loss.


    1. Camp and Kancey will be very disruptive on Saturday. We need their back-ups to rise to another level and be noticed – Danielson (was 3rd string to begin the season), Jules and David Green.


      1. Tyler Bentley was the other DT I was trying to think of. We will need the 3 deep line-up to be hustling on and off the field of play Saturday. They have to be fresh and disruptive.


  12. Pitt’s Kayla Lund is one of the ACC co-players of the week. More importantly she is the AVCA National Player of the week! She is the first Pitt player to ever receive that honor!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! Wish i could have gone to the South Carolina matches and gotten a group of us together! There was one young man cheering them on against USC who was wearing a James Conner Pitt jersey. The team took a group photo of him with the team after the match.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Both Milton and Hooker (former Gobbler)are big “ targets” and would be better TE’s than QB’s.
    Nard’s dogs will eat’em alive!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pulled this stat from a Chris Peak summary yesterday –

    “This week’s game will be the sixth time Pat Narduzzi has led a team on the road against a Power Five non-conference opponent. Narduzzi is still looking for his first win in that setting, having lost at Iowa in 2015, Oklahoma State in 2016, Penn State in 2017, Notre Dame in 2018 and Penn State in 2019.“


  15. Weather for the Noon Start in Knoxville ……looks very good for us. Partly Sunny & Pleasant,

    Prediction is Temps between 77 to 80 at Noon….low humidity is most important.

    Temps aren’t expected to be any higher than 84 by late afternoon, game should be over before
    then at 3pm ish.

    Sunday, Monday & Tuesday, look similar, so that appears to be a lock on Saturday’s forecast.


  16. Was reviewing Tenn’s Recruiting classes since 2016 per Rivals.

    Did not realize that the Vols have had all Top 20 ranked Recruiting classes in all 5 years from 2016 thru 2020.
    3 of those were Top 15 and one in the Top 10 at No. 8.

    Guess I didn’t realize it, because their win/loss record from 2016 thru 2020 didn’t reflect it.
    Sure, they are really regretting the firing of Butch Davis, who had the only 9 win seasons (twice)
    since 2007 and Phillip Fulmer days.

    Now I do know they had like a bunch of players transfer out(25), after Jeremy Pruitt got canned, but they were loaded to begin with. In the last real season of 2019, they were 8-5 and won the Gator Bowl.

    So really hard to get a feel for this game, as the Vols are still loaded with talent, albeit coming off a 3-7 pandemic season, and then firing the Jeremy Pruitt bringing in Heupel as HC However 5 of the 7 Vol losses last year were to not exactly slouches:

    #3 Georgia
    #1 Alabama
    #23 Auburn
    #6 Florida
    #4 Texas A & M


  17. We had an ACC/SEC matchup last night….that didn’t bode well.

    Louisville got thoroughly trashed by Ole Miss. 43-24 and it wasn’t even that close.

    Miss had more than 210 yards offense than L-ville, pushing close to 600 yds of offense.
    Game was played on a neutral field in Atlanta, that didn’t draw that well. 30K in a 75k stadium.


  18. Nicely done John! Since my plans to go to Tennessee have been scrapped, we will be going to the BYU game Friday night. Can’t wait to see the ladies in action again. I’m hoping they won’t need to go to 5 sets again- those are killers for my blood pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on Annie !!!…watching the PITT ladies in tight volleyball matches can really give the heart muscle a total work-out….football at least provides for excessive down-time and a chance to recover.


  19. Well, this is nice I guess, although when I read something like this it points straight back to the previous season. I think Pitt has had these problems before ,and let’s hope Campbell is on the mark:

    This year, there are no egos. Everybody knows their role, from starters to the last guy in the rotation. This year, we’re all buying in.”



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