Pitt's spikers among the best

October 2, 2019 Cranberry Local Sports

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The Steelers are off to a poor start, their franchise quarterback has a bum elbow, they can't run the ball, struggle to stop anyone and are staring at a dreadful season.

The Pirates are, well, the Pirates. Cheap owner. A terrible team and franchise.

And the Penguins have a lot of unknowns going into this NHL season after a disappointing one last year.

The Pitt football team did take down a ranked team recently, beating No. 15 UCF 35-34, but few think the 3-2 Panthers will be in the national conversation by the end of the year.

So, the question begs: What is the best team in Pittsburgh right now?

The answer is actually quite easy.

Pitt volleyball.

“Pitt is it,” said Seneca Valley and Pitt graduate Angela Seman, who was a four-year starter at libero until she graduated last spring.

The Panthers' ascension is not a surprise. It also didn't happen overnight.

This season, Pitt's volleyball team is ranked fourth nationally — the highest rank in program history — after splitting a home-and-home with perennial national power Penn State two weeks ago.

Pitt was ranked fifth in the nation last season with Seman turning in a stellar year.

She graduated No. 2 on the all-time list at Pitt in career digs with 1,851.

The Panthers were 30-2 with victories over nationally ranked Cal Poly, Washington and Louisville before losing to No. 18 Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“I had a blast last year,” Seman said. “It was so amazing.”

Pitt appears even stronger this season.

When Seman was a freshman back in 2014, Pitt was coming off a 19-14 campaign.

Not bad, but clearly not at the level the Panthers currently reside.

Seman was redshirted in 2014 and Pitt made a big jump, going 25-6.

When Seman hit the floor for the first time in 2015, the Panthers were still trying to climb into the upper echelon of college volleyball.

“I think coming to Pitt, I hoped and dreamed it,” Seman said of her thoughts at the time about Pitt volleyball rising into the conversation of best volleyball programs in the nation. “But I didn't expect it.”

That outlook quickly changed and Seman felt something special was happening.

She was right.

The real breakthrough came in 2017 when Pitt lost just seven matches and advanced to the NCAA second round, losing to top-ranked Penn State.

It was also the first of back-to-back ACC championships for the program under coach Dan Fisher.

Fisher is 159-48 since taking over the Pitt volleyball program.

“He built a culture,” Seman said.

Fisher calls it “Pitt Good.”

The Panthers are certainly that.

Mike Kilroy is a staff writer for the Cranberry Eagle.

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Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy

I joined the Butler Eagle in January of 2000 after spending five years at the Steubenville Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times, where I did everything from editing the sports section to knocking snow and ice off the Associated Press satellite dish. I graduated from Kent State University in 1994 with a degree in magazine journalism and a minor in skipping class. My honors include a 2007 Associated Press award for feature writing, a 2005 and 2007 Keystone award for column writing and a 2003 Golden Quill award for feature writing. I have a high game of 255 at Wii Bowling.