The Pitt volleyball team swept LIU on Wednesday 26-24, 25-11, 25-10 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which is being entirely in the city of Omaha. The Panthers improve to 17-4 on the season with the victory, and have now won 13 straight matches, all of which have come in the spring session of the season.
Pitt returns to action tonight to take on 14th-seeded Utah in the round of 32. The match is set for 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and will be broadcast on ESPN3. The Utes hold a record of 13-4 on the season, and were ranked 10th in the latest AVCA Top 25 rankings, Pitt was ranked 19th in those same rankings.
In the first set, it had looked like Pitt would be in for easy first round victory, but the Sharks from LIU had other ideas. After going up 6-0 early, Pitt found itself in a battle for the remainder of the first game.
LIU eventually took a 15-13 advantage, before Pitt went on a 9-1 run to grab 22-16 lead, but yet again the Sharks battled back. LIU tied it at 24, before ACC Player of the Year Kayla Lund finished off the game with two kills to give Pitt the set.
From there, Pitt settled in and asserted its dominance over LIU, the champions of the Northeast Conference. Pitt controlled the second set from the start, and ran its lead up to 17-5, before eventually taking the game by a score of 25-11.
It was more of the same in the third set, as Pitt raced out to a 10-3 advantage, and never really looked back from there. The Panthers scored the final four points of the set to take it 25-10. Chinaza Ndee finished with a team-high 11 kills, while Lund added 9 kills and 9 digs.
Pitt improved to 8-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with the win on Wednesday evening in the program’s 16th all-time appearance in the tournament. The Panthers program has enjoyed a high-level of success in recent memory under the guidance of head coach Dan Fisher. This is the fifth straight tournament appearance for the Panthers under Fisher, as he has also led the program to three ACC Championships from 2017-2019 as well.
On Thursday, the Pitt program will be looking to make history. The Panthers have never advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and have been ousted in the second round in each of the past four tournaments,. A win over Utah would propel the Panthers to the ‘Sweet 16’ for the first time in school history.