Mountaineers end struggles vs. Pitt
Team jumps to 7th in Big East
Published: Sunday, October 17, 2010
Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 23:10
As the West Virginia volleyball team chanted "Our house!" first-year head coach Jill Kramer stood to the side.
In her first meeting with Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl, she erased a 29-year drought against the Panthers in the 40th edition of the rivalry.
"I know it was a huge victory, especially for the people that have been here so long," Kramer said.
The Mountaineers (14-8, 4-3 Big East Conference) defeated the Panthers (9-13, 4-3), 3-2 (25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 17-25, 15-13).
This is the second victory in a rivalry for Kramer in her short tenure at WVU. Earlier this season, she led WVU to a 3-0 victory over in-state rival Marshall.
Going into the fifth set Friday against Pitt, Kramer made eye contact with senior Lauren Evans and felt something special was going to happen.
"When I saw that look in her eyes, I knew if we were going to fall, it wasn't going to be without a fight," Kramer said.
West Virginia had a balanced attack against Pitt. Juniors Kari Post, Kylie Armbruster and Serinna Russo all recorded double-doubles. Post dished out 46 assists and 14 digs.
Armbruster had 13 kills and 14 digs. Russo had 13 kills to go with 20 digs. Senior libero Bonnie West also had a season-high 31 digs.
The first set was even. With the score tied at 16, West Virginia went on a 5-0 run which featured two kills by Evans, a block by Post, a Pitt error and a kill by Armbruster. WVU won the set.
The teams continued to battle back and forth in the second set. A Kill by Armbruster capped a 6-1 run and gave WVU a 17-15 lead forcing Pitt coach Toby Rens to call a timeout. West Virginia capitalized on the Panthers' four attack errors and recorded 11 kills in the set.
One of the more memorable moments in the game came in the second set when the Mountaineers had a 24-21 lead. The crowd of 550 gave the team a standing ovation as Evans blasted a kill to end the set.
The team kept attacking, as it started the third set on a 7-1 run, highlighted by senior Abby Norman who had two kills and two blocks to fuel the run. Pitt would answer with a 9-3 run of its own and eventually went on to win the set 25-22 as the Panthers recorded 12 kills and four blocks.
Pitt opened a 12-7 lead in the fourth set and collected 18 kills on a .353 hitting percentage to win 25-17 and tying the score at two.
Emotions ran high in an intense fifth set. With the score tied at six, the Mountaineers went on a 3-0 spurt capped off by the final Armbruster kill.
After Pittsburgh tied the score at 12, West Virginia got a kill from Russo, a combined block from Post and Evans and ended the nearly three-decade streak with a kill from Post.
West Virginia had only one victory in its previous 39 attempts against its longtime foe.
"I looked at it as an opportunity, and I'm glad we came away with the win," Kramer said.
With the win, WVU leapfrogs Pitt in the Big East standings. It now ranks seventh in the conference as it heads to Duquesne Tuesday.