PITTSBURGH — Holding the No. 2 team in the country to a .231 hitting percentage while recording 11 blocks on the road, Florida State (17-9, 10-6 ACC) was defeated in four sets by No. 2 Pitt (27-1, 16-0 ACC) on Friday night by the score of 19-25, 28-26, 19-25, 22-25. The second-set victory for the Seminoles marked just the fifth set this season that Pitt has lost in ACC play, along with another from FSU’s match with the Panthers on October 6, one versus Clemson and two against Georgia Tech.
Junior Taryn Knuth finished with seven blocks, including a career-high five solo blocks, and inched closer to a milestone, currently with 495 blocks in her three-year career at Florida State. Freshman Jessica Nunge also set a career high, tallying six kills, along with a .333 hitting percentage.
“The girls played hard tonight, we just didn’t execute under pressure like we needed to in some of the sets we lost,” said FSU head coach Chris Poole. “We just need to learn from it. They should realize that we certainly can play with some of the best teams in the country. Overall, we had five freshmen playing for us and I thought they did a good job. We just need to go back and work to get better.”
It was a back-and-forth start to the first set, with seven ties in the first 18 points, as the Noles recorded kills by Payton Caffrey and Morgan Chacon, along with a block from Knuth and Chacon to tie the set at 9-9. The Noles and Panthers traded four-point runs to keep things square at 13-13, and another kill by Caffrey got FSU within three at 19-16. Pitt scored six of the final nine points of the set to secure a 25-19 win.
Pitt took an early lead in the second set, but the Noles rallied with a solo block from Caffrey and kills by Knuth and Chacon to take an 8-7 lead. Pitt used a 9-2 run to break out to a 16-10 lead, before the Noles scored four straight points, including a service ace by Adrian Ell and a solo block by Chacon, to get within two at 16-14. Florida State cut the lead to one on five different occasions down the stretch on kills by Chacon, Knuth and Martin, while another solo block from Caffrey finally tied the set for FSU at 23-23. The Noles earned four set points in the tiebreaker and tied the match with a 28-26 win.
The Seminoles used a 4-0 scoring run with kills by Caffrey and Nunge to open the third set with a 5-3 lead. A kill by Jasmyn Martin made it 9-6 FSU, but Pitt went on a 5-1 run to take an 11-10 lead. A solo block by Knuth puts the Noles back in front 12-11, but the Panthers scored six of the next seven points to make it 17-13. A kill by Caffrey and a service ace by Lauryn Burrows cut the Pitt lead to two at 20-18, but the Panthers scored four in a row to take the third set, 25-19.
After FSU scored the first point of the fourth set on a bad set by Pitt, the Panthers controlled the early points, leading by as much as two, until a kill by Martin put the Seminoles back in front 9-8. Kills by Knuth and Nunge, as well as an assisted block involving them both, grew the FSU lead to as much as three at 15-12, but Pitt came back to tie the set at 16-16. Pitt pushed out to a three-point lead at 21-18, but twice down the stretch the Noles were able to get within one on solo blocks by Knuth at 21-20 and 23-22. That’s as close as Florida State would get, as Pitt wrapped the match with a 25-22 win.
Caffrey and Chacon each ended with a team-high 11 kills, while Knuth added nine kills. Taylor Roberts led the team with a season-high 19 digs, while Lily Tessier and Ell each recorded 20 assists.
Florida State will return to Tallahassee to host Duke (12-17, 5-11 ACC) on November 24. The match between the Seminoles and Blue Devils will begin at 12:00 p.m. and the Noles will celebrate the careers of seniors Payton Caffrey and Madison Sullivan prior to the match. The match will be broadcast nationally on ACC Network, and links for the stream and live stats will be available on the volleyball schedule page on Seminoles.com.
Follow Florida State volleyball on Twitter (@FSU_Volleyball) and Instagram (fsuvolleyball), and like our Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUVolleyball) to keep up to date with everything about Seminole Volleyball.