Playing in front of its home crowd for the first time this year, the Pitt-Bradford volleyball team did not disappoint, defeating Houghton 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 25-21.
The first set was a close affair in the early going as neither team could create separation. Pitt-Bradford built an 11-8 lead only to see the Highlanders rip off four straight points to surge ahead by one. With the set tied at 14, a pair of Houghton errors ignited the Panthers as they rattled off eight consecutive points to take a commanding lead. Erin Fagan played a big role in the run, accounting for the last four points. Pitt-Bradford secured the first set victory after a Houghton service error and a Kirsten Platz kill.
The Panthers' momentum carried over to the second set as they quickly sprinted ahead 9-2. Fagan was involved once again, registering a kill, and Platz added a kill and an ace. Houghton clawed back to make things interesting, pulling within five at 23-18. Mandy Finch registered a block to settle Pitt-Bradford, and her kill one play later preserved the win.
With the Panthers seemingly in control at 19-15 in the third set and well on their way to a sweep, Houghton scored 10 unanswered points to force a fourth frame. Pitt-Bradford had built a 16-11 lead, spurned by the play of Platz and Finch. During a key 6-0 run, both players had a kill and block each. However, the Highlanders regrouped and eventually rallied to take the set.
With the fourth set tied at 11, Pitt-Bradford converted three straight points to go ahead for good. The Highlanders would trim the lead to one at 16-15 only to see the Panthers score four straight to build a five-point cushion. A service error pushed the Highlanders to game point, and Finch's kill two plays later finished off the visitors.
Platz had a team-high 13 kills, Fagan finished with nine, Rose Thacker added eight and Finch had six. Christina Rauh totaled 35 assists and Platz recorded three aces. Brianna Majot posted a team-best 16 digs, Alexis Dhayer and Finch had 15 apiece, and Rauh recorded 10. Platz netted seven blocks, Dhayer collected five, and Thacker and Rauh each had four.
"A nice win at home against a solid team going into a big weekend for us," head coach Tom Roof said. "We got good production from our outside hitters tonight, particularly Erin Fagan who stepped in for Alma [Turpin] tonight.
We still have room for improvement though. I thought our serve receive broke down at times, but once we corrected those issues, I thought we played fine."
The Panthers, who are off to their best start since 2010, improve to 7-2 and will compete in the Ginny Hunt Kilt Classic this weekend in Wooster, Ohio.