Ed: Here is another million word women’s volleyball article – especially welcome because, as John states below, WE ARE IN THE FINAL FOUR!! Enjoy reading this as I have...
For the first time in history, our #3 seed Pitt Women’s volleyball team has made it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. It is also a first for any Pitt women’s team making it to a Final Four. This is the third occurrence of a Pitt team making it to an NCAA Final Four. Pitt men’s soccer team made it this spring. Our men’s basketball team made it way back in 1941. There is an old saying: “The third time is a charm!”
Pitt will be playing #10 seed Nebraska at 9:30 PM on Thursday, December 16th. The match will be televised on ESPN. The match will take place in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to Pitt’s match, #1 seed Louisville will take on #4 seed Wisconsin at 7:00 PM. Root for Louisville and the ACC in that one.
Pitt got here by defeating Purdue 3-1 on Saturday. The match started out pretty much as I thought it would. Pitt and Purdue battled it out in the first three sets. Pitt won sets one and three by identical 25-20 scores after Purdue managed to eke out a win in set 2, 30-28. In the 4th set Pitt went on two 4-point, and one 5-point runs to pull away with an easy 25-15 set and match win. This was Pitt first win ever over Purdue in 12 attempts.
Pitt made life difficult for Purdue’s two main weapons. Newton had 16 kills on 56 attempts for a 0.107 hitting %. Cleveland had 9 kills on 28 attempts for a 0.179 hitting %. Pitt actually out blocked Purdue 9-8 which took away one Purdue’s best method of scoring. Purdue’s setter had zero kills on 10 attempts with a hitting % of -0.200. Serena Gray stuffed several of her attempts at the net.
Pitt lost the 2nd set due to 11 attack errors and 3 service errors. Overall Pitt served well. They kept Purdue out of system, in general, even though the stats show only 5 aces to 8 error for the match. Overall Pitt hit 0.311 versus 0.156 for Purdue. Pitt’s hitting % for the 4 sets were 0.571, 0.122, 0.310, and 0.379. Purdue hit a very good 0.476 in the first set. In the next three sets they hit 0.143, 0.132, and 0.000. That last number is not a typo!
Leketor Member-Meneh was the MVP of the Pittsburgh Regional. Joining her on the All-Regional Team were Serena Gray, Rachel Fairbanks, and Chinaza Ndee. Keep in mind that Rachel is a freshman and only became a starter in the second to last match of the season.
For all the other stats and info about the win here is the link to Pitt’s article about it.
Now for an analysis of Nebraska. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are from the Big Ten conference. They finished second in the Big Ten behind Wisconsin this year. Their overall record for the year is 25-7. Pitt will now have faced three of the eight Big Ten teams in the tournament.
Nebraska’s common opponents with Pitt were Louisville, Purdue, Penn State and Florida State. Louisville swept them at Nebraska. They defeated Purdue 3-1 both home and away. They swept Penn State at home 3-0. They swept Florida State in the 2nd round of the tournament this year at home. Nebraska has made significant lineup changes since their sweep by Louisville.
Pitt lost to Louisville, home and away, 3-2 and 3-1 respectively. They defeated Purdue, 3-1 at home as well as Penn State, 3-1. Pitt beat Florida State, 3-1 away. Kayla Lund did not play in the second Louisville match and Rachel Fairbanks was a fairly new starter.
Basically, Pitt and Nebraska are closely matched. One would consider them even based on the schedule comparison. Nebraska has gotten better as the season has gone on. Their biggest win was against #2 seed Texas at Austin in the regional tournament final. They lost twice to Wisconsin, home and away, with the last loss being the next to last match of the regular season.
More on next page…