OMAHA, Neb. — Claire Chaussee had 25 kills, Anna DeBeer filled up the stat sheet and Louisville made history as the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to make the NCAA Volleyball Championship match by beating league rival Pittsburg 3-2 in the semifinals Thursday night.
Louisville, which lost a five-set thriller to the Panthers earlier in the season before sweeping them 3-0 last month, won by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 22-25 and 15-2.
DeBeer served the first eight points of the deciding set and PK Kong had four of her career-high 11 blocks as the Cardinals blitzed the Panthers. Elena Scott picked up her fifth ace, matching DeBeer, and Amaya Tillman two of her seven blocks as Louisville finished with a season high 19. Louisville hit .750 in the final set, Pitt was minus .353.
The Cardinals (31-2), the No. 2 overall seed, face Texas (27-1) the top seed, for the championship Saturday night.
If Louisville becomes the first ACC volleyball champion with one more win at the CHI Health Center, Cardinals coach Dani Busboom Kelly will have a unique stat of her own. She won a championship as a player at Nebraska in the same arena and a second as a Cornhusker assistant.
The Cardinals set the tone early as DeBeer opened the match with an ace and served six-straight points. Pitt regrouped and tied the score twice before Kong had three blocks to help Louisville break away from a 9-9 tie with a 10-3 run. The Panthers only hit .056 with nine errors.
Pitt turned it around in the second set, hitting .318 with just two errors.
In the third set, Louisville scored the last five points. With the game tied at 22, Scott served back-to-back aces and Chaussee, who had her third 20-kill match of the season, finished it with a kill.
Pitt paid it back in the fourth set, rallying from a 16-10 deficit and then scoring the last five points to win it. Serena Gray had a kill and a block assist with Courtney Buzzerio to close it out.
DeBeer, a regional MVP, had 15 kills, seven digs, five aces and three blocks. Scott had 28 digs, eight assists and five aces.
Buzzerio, the regional MVP when Pitt (31-4) upset defending national champion Wisconsin in their regional, had 13 kills and Gray had 10. But the Panthers hit just .145 over five sets.
Louisville and Pitt both lost in the national semifinals last year. Prior to that an ACC had made the Final Four just once in 40 years.
UofL takes on Texas for the national title Saturday, December 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
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