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Pitt volleyball competes in the Final Four for the second straight year

Matt Hawley
Pitt Athletics
Serena Gray blocks her opponent.

Having knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers, the defending national champion in women’s volleyball, in last week’s NCAA regional, Pittsburgh will next face the Louisville Cardinals opponent at the Final Four in Omaha Thursday evening.

The Panthers have already achieved school history with their second straight appearance in the women’s volleyball Final Four. They didn’t make it to the title match last year, but they’re determined to go one step further this year..

Nebraska defeated the Panthers in last year’s semifinal.

Serena Gray, a transfer from Penn State, has been a part of the team’s Final Four run in each of the two years she’s been at Pitt.

“I think it’s a little bit of a surreal experience,” said Gray. “You never think your time is going to end, then all of a sudden you’re 22, almost 23, and your time’s ending.”

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The Panthers split their two matches against Louisville this year with a five-set win at home, Oct. 23, before being swept, 3-0, in their road match on Nov. 18.

Louisville head coach Dani Busboom Kelly played at the University of Nebraska, so the natural tendency is to expect an Omaha crowd to be pulling for the Cardinals.

But after beating the Badgers last week on their home floor in Madison, Wisconsin, Panthers coach Dan Kelly believes his team will be unfazed by a partisan crowd in Omaha.

“It’s been a tough group,” said Kelly.

Top-ranked Texas will take on San Diego in the other semifinal. Thursday night’s winners will meet in the title match on Saturday.

Greg Echlin