Syracuse University dealt the Pittsburgh Panthers their first Atlantic Coast Conference loss since 2018 with a 3-2 victory on Friday night in the Women's Building in front of an ESPNU audience.
The Orange (1-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) rallied to win the second and third sets, 25-17 and 26-24, after losing the opening set, 25-21. After the three-time defending ACC champion Panthers won the fourth set, 27-25, Syracuse took the fifth set, 15-9, to win the season-opening match for both teams. Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play again on Saturday, September 26 at 6 p.m. (ACCNX).
"Tonight's win was a team effort. I am tired, but extremely happy," said Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin. "We are going to enjoy this win for a couple of hours and then get some sleep, hopefully good sleep, and come back tomorrow. Pittsburgh will not give up. We have to come tomorrow ready to play."
In the fifth and deciding set the score was tied at seven when sophomore Berkley Hayes came into the match to serve, sparking Syracuse on an 8-2 run, propelling the Orange to the victory. During that stretch senior Ella Saada recorded three kills and an ace. Saada finished the match with 13 kills.
In the first set, Pitt held a 17-12 lead when the Orange fought their way back into the set with kills from Polina Shemanova, Saada, Yuliia Yastrub and Abby Casiano, and a service ace from Saada that made the score 18-17 Panthers. Pitt held on to close out the set on a 7-4 run for the 25-21 first set win.
Syracuse won the second set with an eight to three run to take an 18-10 lead and then closed out the 25-17 set win. The Orange carried the momentum in to the third set, jumping out to an 11-4 lead that they never relinquished in the 26-24 win.
With the match tied at two sets apiece, Syracuse took control in the second part of the fifth set to secure the victory.
Shemanova on the Attack
Orange junior Polina Shemanova tallied 20 kills had 18 digs and five blocks to lead the Orange to a 3-2 victory against the defending Atlantic Coast Conference Pittsburgh Panthers. In just her third season Shemanova has 952 career kills.
The Series vs. Pittsburgh
Prior to the Orange victory tonight, the last time Syracuse had won against Pittsburgh was on November 22, 2015. The Panthers lead the series, 40-12. Saturday's match will be the 53rd in the series.