Photo Credits to the Pitt Volleyball Team
By Jeremy Halt
Although the 2017 season for Pitt Women’s Volleyball has come to a close, their trajectory is far from faltered.
This year was the first year in program history where Pitt was led to victory in the ACC going 18-2 in conference play. This was also the second year in a row where Pitt qualified for the NCAA championship tournament and advanced to the second round, losing both times to current number one: Penn State.
The Pitt Volleyball program was crafted into a winning team by Dan Fisher, the current head volleyball coach who has been with the team since 2013.
With a better and more consistent program than ever before, even two losses to rival Penn State won’t keep the Panthers down. Pitt’s recruitment has continued to get star players on their team and there remains several award-studded players that will still be Panthers going into 2018.
Our star lineup going into the 2018 season includes Kayla Lund who was named the American Volleyball Coach Association’s Freshman of the Year as well as ACC Freshman of the week on four occasions with 230 kills on her first season at Pitt. That compares well to our other more experienced star players like Layne Van Buskirk, who has had 273 kills this season.
Other star players like Nika Markovic, Kamalani Akeo, and Stephanie Williams were named to the All-East Coast Region Team, and Chinaze Ndee was named ACC Freshman of the Week twice, giving the team’s total number of Freshmen of the Week more than any other ACC team this season.
Of course, the challenge remains of refining the starting line-up and building a bigger variety of plays. The largest factors in Pitt’s loss to Penn State was their inability to set-up different players in different locations on the court to combat PSU’s strong defense. Additionally, they maintained the perfect positioning to allow for PSU’s attack to make easy work of them in the third and fourth sets.
Despite these challenges, Pitt has now become a top-of-the-conference team. Their next move is to upset a newly weakened PSU in 2018. Pitt has been known to shock the NCAA before, and with their transformation from an unranked team to a line-up that can scare the number one team in the NCAA, it’s soon to come.