No. 1 seed Pittsburgh recovers from 2-set down to stun No. 2 seed Louisville, advancing to Volleyball Final Four
It's not how you start but how you finish, and the Pittsburgh Panthers demonstrated this on Saturday night.
No. 1 seed Pittsburgh staged a remarkable comeback to topple ACC rival and second-seeded Louisville 3-2 in an electrifying NCAA Women's Volleyball Regional Final at Fitzgerald Field House.
Trailing 2-0 after dropping the first two sets, the Panthers mounted an impressive rally, dominating the final three sets to complete a reverse sweep. They clinched a 23-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-19, 15-7 victory, advancing to the National Semifinals in Tampa, Fla., next Thursday.
Torrey Stafford and Olivia Babcock Lead Attack
Torrey Stafford led Pittsburgh's charge with 18 kills, hitting .378, and contributed 11 digs and two blocks. Olivia Babcock, overcoming a sluggish start, found her rhythm in the latter half of the match, notching 16 kills, along with eight digs, five blocks, and three aces.
Valeria Vazquez Gomez chipped in with eight kills, eight digs, and four aces. Emma Monks also tallied eight kills and a team-high eight blocks, propelling the Panthers to their third consecutive National Championships semifinals appearance.
Rachel Fairbanks orchestrated the offense with 48 assists, adding seven digs and three blocks. Emmy Klika bolstered the defense with 11 digs for Pittsburgh.
For Louisville (27-5), Phekran Kong and Anna Debeer each recorded 13 kills. Elle Glock distributed 39 assists, while Elena Scott led the team with 10 digs. Kong matched the game-high with eight blocks in the Cardinals' loss.
Louisville Couldn't Maintain Perfect Start
Louisville commenced the match with a strong showing, amassing 29 kills, including 17 in the opening set, to seize an early lead.
The Cardinals hit .333 in the first set for a 25-23 win and maintained their momentum with a .300 hitting percentage in the second set, securing a 25-20 victory.
However, Pittsburgh, replicating their 3-2 comeback win against Louisville on Nov. 18, outperformed their ACC rivals in the decisive final three sets, which was closed out with a final kill by Monks.
Pitt out-hit Louisville .350 to .114 in the final three sets. #Dominance!
This triumph marks Pittsburgh as the only team to reach the final weekend of play for three consecutive seasons.
The victory also served as retribution for Pittsburgh, avenging their loss to the Cardinals in last season's National Semifinals, a contest that also stretched to five sets.
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