A Look into Syracuse Volleyball’s Upcoming Match vs. Pittsburgh

Abby Casiano boosting the team energy (Cuse.com)
Monday, Nov 01, 2021 at 4:44 pm by Sports Editor

By: Annie Klaff

CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter

SU Volleyball has six matches left and two of them are against fourth ranked Pittsburgh. The Orange’s current record stands at 15-9 (4-8 Atlantic Coast) with losses quickly encroaching on the wins as of late. 

Luckily for Syracuse, they’ve had two chances to compete against a nationally ranked opponent. Despite losing to both number three Louisville and 13th ranked Georgia Tech, the team and head Coach Yelin mentioned that they weren’t displeased with the performances. 

Additionally, yesterday the Orange fell to Florida State in 2-3 sets. Even with the loss, SU certainly kept it close and numerous players recorded new season highs. Marina Markova tallied 33 total kills, the third most in program history. 

“We played really well against a good Florida State team, we just couldn’t close it out in the end,” said Coach Yelin after yesterday’s match. “Marina played really well today. To me, she looked like an All-American First Team. Abby produced well today, too. Her energy is always huge for our team.”

Energy and focus are going to be crucial for SU heading into Friday against the Panthers. Yelin has repeatedly spoken of the importance of these out on the court. However, aside from these two scopes, Junior Abby Casiano mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she prepares every match the same way. 

No matter who the opponent is, Casiano – the “emotional leader” for the team – focuses on playing her own game and channeling the Orange to play their game as well. Being in the right frame of mind will certainly be necessary for traveling to Pittsburgh.

But, if focused on the statistical breakdown rather than just mindset, there’s a few things to note.

First off, Syracuse defeated Pittsburgh twice last year, one of which in just three sets. The first win over Pitt was the Panthers’ first conference loss since 2018. But, Pittsburgh managed to finish third in the ACC last season with an overall record of 19-5. 

This year, they’ve bumped up to second in the ACC (behind undefeated Louisville) with a current overall record of 20-2. Even though Pitt holds an exceptional record and ranking advantage, both team’s season statistics are fairly similar. 

In fact, Syracuse actually outperforms Pittsburgh in all of the above areas of play, except for service errors. In full conference comparison, Pitt is third for holding opponent hitting percentage at only .186. The only two teams above the Panthers here are Louisville and Miami, both of which SU recently fell to. 

The main difference between Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s season stats are what they hold their opponents to. SU’s opponents record more kills, assists, digs, a higher hitting percentage, etc. than Pitt’s do. 

The match will reveal what’s the most important: Syracuse’s higher team statistics, Pittsburgh’s stronger ability to limit their opponents, or SU’s mindset and energy? 

This weekend kicks off when SU travels to Pittsburgh for a 7 p.m. match on Friday. Also, the Orange take on Virginia in Cavalier territory Sunday at 12 p.m.  

aklaff@citrustv.net | @annieklaff