Syracuse volleyball sweeps Pitt in opening series

SU volleyball sweeps Pitt doubleheader

The Orange hand Pitt its first three-set loss in three years in the ACC season opener.
Published: September 26, 2020 | Updated: October 7th, 2020 at 11:34 am
The Syracuse volleyball team celebrates after scoring a point against Pitt during their three-set win on Saturday.
Syracuse volleyball celebrates after scoring a point against Pitt during their three-set win on Saturday.

In a shocking start to the season, the Syracuse women’s volleyball team beat Pitt in three sets on Saturday and swept the series against the Panthers after winning Friday night’s match 5-2.

The Panthers came into the match as the heavy favorite, ranked the No. 5 women’s program in the country this season. Still, Pitt was no match for the tight-knit Syracuse team looking to make the best of a shortened season.

The Orange led off with the same starting lineup that led them to victory Friday night. It was Pitt that started the first set on the serving line this time, and Yuliia Yastrub responded with a kill to give Syracuse the early lead. The Panthers held tight until Polina Shemanova jumped for a block that gave point 23 to Syracuse. Another block from Shemanova and a kill error from Pitt gave SU the first set 25-21.

The second set started with another kill from opposite hitter Yastrub. The set went longer than the first with Pitt using their two challenges of the game. One of the challenges favored the Orange with an overturn of an outside call from the referees.

In a tough situation for the Panthers, sophomore Abby Casiano gave the lead to Syracuse with a block. The set ended with an outstanding dig from freshman Lauren Hogan, an on-point set by junior Elena Karakasi and a kill from senior Ella Saada, pushing the Orange to a 2-0 set lead in the 27-25 extra point match.

Yastrub started the third set with a kill followed by three blocks in a row, giving Syracuse the advantage in the set. Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin made a substitution in the match, putting in sophomore Viktoriia Lokhmanchuk. The outside hitter had a cross-court kill that that helped ‘Cuse get closer to the match-point. A tremendous kill from Casiano and a straight ace from Karakasi pushed the Orange to the 3-0 win against the Panthers. The third and last set ended 25-19.

Marina Markova, Saada and Shemanova each had an eight-kill game. Hogan led the game with 15 digs, another stellar performance from the freshman. On the offensive side of the game, setter Karakasi led the game with 36 assists.

“He tried to do everything he could, but I’m lucky that my players played the way they did,” said Yelin about the Panthers substitutions throughout the game.

In addition to the usual starters, Syracuse’s bench play was exceptional in the two-game series against the Panthers.

“To have teammates that you can rely on and to come off the bench and play like that was amazing,” said Karakasi about her teammates.

Markova also had a great performance in the series against Pittsburgh.

“Having kills like that and getting points like that its very important, and sharing that emotions with my teammates is a good feeling,” said the sophomore.

The Orange handed Pitt their first ACC loss since 2018 Friday night and destroyed another Panthers streak with Saturday’s win. Syracuse’s three-set victory marked Pitt’s first straight-set loss since August 2017.

Syracuse volleyball hits the road next weekend for a pair of matches at Notre Dame on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

Avatar for Sabrina Lebrón

is a magazine, news and online graduate student, sports and features writer, plus volleyball enthusiast.