MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Top seed Louisville (22-7, 13-1 BIG EAST) defeated No. 8 seed Pittsburgh (18-13, 7-7 BIG EAST) 3-1 (25-13, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20) in the second quarterfinals match of the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship on Friday at the Al McGuire Center. The Cardinals have moved on to the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Championship every year since joining the conference in 2005. Pittsburgh last made the semifinals in 2008.
BIG EAST Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova led the Cardinals with 16 kills and 20 digs while sophomore Brooke Mattingly notched a career-high 15 kills and .571 hitting percentage. Louisville hit .359 for the match, including .500 in the first set. Pittsburgh freshman Jessica Wynn posted 12 kills and 19 digs in her first BIG EAST Championship match while senior Kiesha Leggs tallied 11 kills.
Louisville, which suffered its only conference loss to Pittsburgh 3-1 on Oct. 23, took the first set 25-13 behind Arslanbekova’s team-leading five kills. Mattingly, sophomore Emily Juhl and junior Kaitlynn James all provided three kills as the Cardinals posted a .500 hitting percentage. Wynn posted four kills in the opening set for the Panthers.
The Cardinals battled back from an early 7-3 deficit to take the second set 25-20. Arslanbekova again dominated on the offensive end posting seven kills in the set. Juhl also provided five kills and a block as the Cardinals rallied to take the set. Sophomore Caitlin Welch registered 7 digs on the defensive end for the Cardinals. Leggs provided the offense for the Panthers with four kills in the set.
Leggs provided five kills while Wynn scooped eight digs as the Panthers avoided the sweep, taking the third set 26-24. Pittsburgh held a 22-15 lead before Louisville scored the next eight points to take a 23-22 lead. With the set tied at 24, a kill by Brenea White and a block from Lindsey Zitzke secured the set for the Panthers. Mattingly notched 5 kills while Arslanbekova had 10 digs in the third set for Louisville.
The Cardinals clinched the match in the fourth set, with a 25-20 victory. Louisville built a six-point lead at 18-12 in the fourth set following four straight points. Mattingly and Juhl each posted five kills in the final set. Freshman Libero Delaney Clesen had eight digs for the Panthers in the set.
Louisville plays No. 5 Notre Dame (16-11, 8-6 BIG EAST) at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT Saturday in the first of two semifinal matches. The Cardinals picked up a 3-1 victory earlier in the season against the Irish on Oct. 2.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 18
Match 1: No. 5 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Syracuse 1 (27-25,25-17,21-25,25-19)
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville 3, No. 8 Pittsburgh 1 (25-13,25-20,24-26,25-20)
Match 3: No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Villanova, 4:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. CT
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 6 Seton Hall, 7 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. CT
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 19
Match 5: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 5 Notre Dame, 2 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. CT
Match 6: No. 3/No. 6 vs. No. 2/No. 7, 4:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. CT
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 20
Match 7: Semifinal winners, 4:00 p.m. ET/ 3:00 p.m. CT (LIVE – ESPNU)