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RMU Volleyball Upsets Pitt For First Time in Program History

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pittsburgh -- For the first time in program history, dating to the first series meeting in 1975, the Robert Morris University volleyball team beat local rival Pitt as the Colonials pulled a stunning upset Wednesday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center by controlling the match in athorough sweeping of their Big East opponent.

RMU used a strong defensive performance to claim the victory as the Colonials recorded more blocks and more digs than the Panthers while holding them to a .044 hitting percentage for the match, Pittsburgh’s worst hitting mark in its past 26 overall matches.

The match did not start out ideally for Robert Morris as the Colonials trailed bysix points near the midpoint of the opening set, 16-10. However, after head coach Dale Starr used a timeout, RMU proceeded to win more than 60 percent of the points for the remainder of the match as it held Pitt to hitting percentages below .085 in each of the three sets played.

“I’m extremely proud of our team,” Starr said. “We tried to just stay relaxed and play hard, and apparently that’s what we need to keep doing. We’ve played a lot of matches and ‘numbers-wise’ this isn’t the best match we’ve played, but it is probably the most complete match we’ve played.”

Senior captain Hannah Veith (Columbus, Ohio / Worthington) led a balanced Robert Morris attack bydrilling a match-high 10 kills on 21 attempts. Veith, who added three blocks, has now put down double-digit kills in four consecutive matches for the second time in her career and has reached double figures in 14 of her last 18 matches overall. The veteran hit .333 on the evening and has hit at a mark at least that high in seven of her last eight matches.

The fine defensive performance for RMU was led by a pair of freshman, Melissa Bograd (Lemont,Ill. / Lemont) and Becky Jay (Parma, Ohio / Padua Franciscan). The former tallied a match-high 14 digs and received 20 serves while the latter contributed a match-best six blocks, including an impressive four of the solo variety, a new team season high.

Junior outside hitter Lindsey Monger (Rising Sun, Md. / Rising Sun) aided the RMU defense with 12 digs, her eighth straight match with double digits in that department, and also added seven kills to the Colonial cause.

Freshman Hannah Hoffman (Parker, Colo. / Ponderosa) managed the Robert Morris attack by providing a team-best 25 assists and augmented her effort with three kills on just seven attempts.

After falling behind by six points in the first set, a RMU timeout changed the course of the match. The Colonials won each of the next five exchanges after the break in the action to get right back into the contest. With Pittsburgh still leading by two, 19-17, Robert Morris won three straight points to take its first lead of the match. RMU was still clinging to a one-point lead, 23-22, as the moments grew tighter, but the Colonials were able to put away the first set with back-to-back points as junior Amanda Craig (Houston, Texas / St. Agnes Academy) nailed a kill before Veith and freshman Erica Robb (Novi, Mich / Novi) combined on a block.

The squads split the opening 14 points of the second set, and then Robert Morris took control with a big burst. RMU went on a 12-3 run to break the set wide open, taking a 19-10 lead in the process. The Colonials led by at least seven for the rest of the game and maintained that nine-point cushion to the finishto take the commanding two-set lead. Robert Morris never trailed in the second set and hit a respectable .265 as a team while holding Pitt to .083 mark.

Pitt grabbed three straight points early in the third set to take a 3-1 lead, but Robert Morris made sure the visitors would not harbor thoughts of a come back for long. RMU won four straight points to retake the lead and still led by two at the 11-9 mark. Craig put down a kill to push the advantage to three, 12-9, and from that point forward, the Colonials led by at least three the rest of the way. With the crowd standing in anticipation of the upset at 24-20, Veith slammed down a kill to finish the match in style as Robert Morris collected a signature victory.

Craig notched five kills on 12 attempts with two blocks while Robb registered seven kills and seven digs.

The win was the first for Robert Morris over a team from a BCS conference since the Colonials took down West Virginia in October of 2006.

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.