Pittsburgh Panthers women's volleyball

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Pittsburgh Panthers Volleyball
Pitt Panthers wordmark.svg
University University of Pittsburgh
Conference ACC
Location Pittsburgh, PA
Head coach Dan Fisher (2nd year)
Home arena Fitzgerald Field House (Capacity: 4,122)
Nickname Panthers
Colors Navy Blue and Gold[1]
AIAW and NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1978, 1981, 1990
AIAW and NCAA Tournament Appearances
1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2016
Regional AIAW Tournament Appearances
1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
Conference Tournament Champions
1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003
Conference Regular Season Champions
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2003

Pittsburgh Panthers women's volleyball is the NCAA Division I intercollegiate volleyball program of the University of Pittsburgh, often referred to as "Pitt", located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pitt volleyball team competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and plays their home games in Fitzgerald Field House. Since the founding of the volleyball program in 1974, the Panthers have had 35 winning seasons, one of the nation's top all-time winning percentages,[2] appearances in 15 national championship tournaments, and while a member of the Big East Conference, the most conference tournament championships with eleven.[3]


The beginning[edit]

Pitt women's volleyball was founded in 1974 and was led during its first season by coach Mary Kromer who guided the team, originally nicknamed the Pantherettes, to a 14-3 record in their first year of existence. Perhaps more impressively, in the first year of the program, and despite the fact that two of the starters never played volleyball before, the team was invited to participate in the Eastern Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (EAIAW) regional championship, where the team advanced to the quarterfinals.[4] Kromer continued as coach for the programs second season, in which the team posted an 18-2 record and again appeared in the EAIAW regional championships.[5]

Mike Hebert years Oski?[edit]

The 1978 Pitt volleyball team, coached by Mike Hebert and playing home games at Trees Hall, was the school's first to win the Eastern regional championship and advance to the collegiate volleyball national championships, then held by the AIAW, where they finished 13th in the nation

Prior to the 1976 season, Mike Hebert, a former player at the UC-Santa Barbara who was teaching at Pitt, was asked by the university to coach the women's team although he'd never seen women play volleyball. He eventually accepted the part-time job to coach the up-start program for $1,500.[6] Without many collegiate women's team sports in existence in the mid-1970s, Hebert and his team were pioneers who "invented things as [they] went along".[6] Despite this, Herbert guided the Panthers to a fourth-place finish in the EAIAW championships during his first two seasons.[5] Under his guidance, Pitt broke through to national prominence in 1978 winning the EAIAW Championship and advancing to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Large College Volleyball Championships where they finished with a 2-3 record and a 13th place national finish en route to the program's first 40-win season.[7] His part-time position turning full-time in his final season in 1979, which saw the Panthers successfully defend their EAIAW Championship and earn a return trip to the AIWA national championships.[8] During this span he also collected EAIAW Eastern Region Coach of the Year awards at Pitt in 1978 and 1979. Herbert, who also served as an assistant coach for Pitt's men's team for the last two years of his stay in Pittsburgh, then left, citing family reasons, to take the head coaching job at the New Mexico,[9] eventually coaching at Illinois and Minnesota; along the way winning multiple national championships, the national coach of the year award, and earning induction into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.[6]

Shelton Collier years[edit]

The program next turned to Ohio State assistant Shelton Collier, who in his initial season as head coach in 1980 guided the Panthers to a school record with 41 wins, and followed up in 1981 with a season that included a win at eighth-ranked Pepperdine,[10] an EAIWA Championship, and a ninth-place finish in the final year of the AIAW national championships.[11] In 1982, the women's volleyball program transitioned both into the NCAA, which took over the sponsorship of intercollegiate athletics from the AIWA, as well as into the Big East Conference. In addition, the program permanently moved their home games from their primary home in Trees Hall to the larger Fitzgerald Field House, which had previously hosted select volleyball tournaments and games.[12] During Collier's tenure, Pitt established itself as the dominant volleyball team in the Big East from the start, winning the regular season Big East Southern Division tournament, without losing a game and losing only one set, in every year in which it competed: 1982, 1983, and 1984. Pitt also won the first ever Big East Tournament in 1982 without losing a game en route to the program's second 41-win season.[13] Collier guided Pitt to capture additional Big East Tournament crowns in 1984, 1986, and 1988 and appeared in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship in 1982, 1984, 1986, and 1987.[5]

Sue Woodstra years[edit]

Volleyball courts in Fitzgerald Field House

Sue Woodstra, a silver medalist for the U.S. National Volleyball Team at the 1984 Summer Olympics, took over the Pitt program in 1989. During her tenure, she led her teams to Big East Conference Tournament Championships in each season as well as three Big East regular season championships, winning the regular season each year from when the Big East instituted round-robin play in 1990. She also led the Panthers to four post-season appearances including one Women's Invitation Volleyball Championship appearance in 1989 in which Pitt finished third, and three NCAA volleyball tournaments, including in 1990 where Pitt reached the regional semifinal. Woodstra's teams NCAA tournament teams were led by standout second team All-American outside hitter Ann Marie Lucanie, who won the Big East Tournament MVP award four straight years as well as a record three straight Big East Player of the Year awards, including in her senior year in 1993 under new head coach Cindy Alvear.[3] In total, Woodstra compiled an overall record of 110-39 (.738) over four seasons as head coach.[14]

Alvear and Beerman years[edit]

Cindy Alvear took over in 1993 leading Pitt to Big East regular season championships, Big East Tournament championships, and NCAA Tournament appearances in her first two seasons. This was followed by second-place finishes in both the Big East regular season and tournaments in 1995 and 1996 with a National Invitational Volleyball tournament appearance in 1995.[14] Pitt program slipped in the late 1990s, experiencing its first losing Big East record in 1999. Chris Beerman took over the program in 2000 and helped lead the team back to a winning conference record. A losing record in 2001, Pitt's first ever, snapped one of the longest NCAA records for consecutive winning seasons.[15] However, the Panthers rebounded in a big way in 2003 by winning the Big East regular season and tournament championship and advancing into the second round of the NCAA tournament. A second-place finish Big East finish and at-large bid to the NCAA tournament followed in 2004, before the program experienced only its third losing season in 2007.[14]

Toby Rens years[edit]

Toby Rens was hired to take over the program in 2008, immediately restoring the program to a winning season and his first year. In 2009, despite being picked to finish eighth in the Big East,[16] Rens guided the Panthers to a school record twelve Big East wins and a second-place finish behind Big East Player of the Year and third team All-American middle hitter Meagan Dooley. Heading into the 2010 season, the Panthers faced ten 2009 NCAA Tournament participants,[17] but faltered to 13–18 record and a loss in the first round of the Big East Tournament. This was followed by an 18–15 record and a 17–14 record in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Following the 2012 season, Rens accepted the head coaching job at Chicago State University.

Dan Fisher era[edit]

Pitt entered the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013[18] with a new head coach, Dan Fisher, who led Concordia University-Irvine to the 2012 NAIA National Championship with an overall two-year record of 72-2.[19] Fisher led Pitt to a 5th-place finish in its first year in the ACC, exceeding pre-season expectations that had Pitt picked to finish 13th in the conference, and improved to 25-6 in his second year. He led the Panthers back to the NCAA tournament in 2016.

Team awards & accomplishments[edit]

Post-season national tournaments[edit]

Since the founding of its volleyball program in 1974, Pitt has participated in post-season volleyball tournaments in 21 different seasons. Post-season play include 12 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship tournament appearances, 3 AIAW National Championship appearances, 8 EAIAW Regional championship appearances, and two NIVC tournament appearances.


Prior to the NCAA taking on the administration of women's sports and championships in 1981, the AIWA and its regional affiliates conducted regional and national championships in volleyball. In 1981, schools could compete in either the AIWA and NCAA and both organizations held championships, but by 1982, only the NCAA remained.


EAIWA Regional Championship appearances (8)

  • 1974 (quarterfinals)
  • 1975 (?)
  • 1976 (4th)
  • 1977 (4th)
  • 1978 (1st)
  • 1979 (1st)
  • 1980 (3rd)
  • 1981 (1st)

AIWA National Championship appearances (3)

  • 1978 AIWA National Large College Volleyball Championship (2-3, 13th)
Preliminary pool
W Oregon 2-0
W Alabama 2-1
L Texas-Arlington 0-2
L San Jose State 0-2
L Hawaii 0-2
  • 1981 AIWA National Division I Volleyball Championship (2-2, 9th)
Pool A
L Texas 15-6, 15-7, 15-10
L Michigan 15-8, 15-10, 14-16, 17-15
Consolation Bracket
W Ohio State 15-9, 15-9
9th Place
W California 15-12, 2-15, 16-14
  • 1979 AIWA National Division I Volleyball Championship (1-3)
Pool 4
L Pacific 13-15, 6-15
W Southern Illinois 15-8, 15-12
L Pepperdine 15-11, 5-15, 13-15
L Ohio State 6-15, 2-15


Pitt has participated in 12 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships and has an overall record of 3-11 in the tournament.


The National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) was founded in 1989 as the Women's Invitational Volleyball Championship (WIVC). The post-season tournament existed for seven seasons from 1989 to 1995. Pitt participated in the post-season tournament in two seasons, finishing in 3rd place in 1989.

  • 1989 WIVC (3-1, 3rd place)
W UAB (3-0), W Iowa State (3-0), W Texas Tech (3-1), L Wisconsin (0-3)
  • 1995 NIVC (0-4)
L Fresno State (1-3), L Wisconsin (0-3), L Saint Louis (2-3), L Stephen F. Austin (0-3)

Big East Championships[edit]

Denise Frawley was a two-time Honorable Mention All-American, 1987 Big East Conference Player of the Year, and 1988 Big East Tournament MVP for Pitt

While a member of the Big East Conference between 1982 and 2012, Pitt won more Big East Tournament Championships (11) than any other school, winning seven straight from 1988 to 1994. Additionally, Pitt has been the Big East tournament runner-up five times. The Big East Conference began holding conference tournaments to crown a champion in 1982, but did not conduct round-robin play and crown a regular season champion until 1990. Prior to 1990, the Big East schools were organized into divisions and sometimes held regular-season divisional tournaments.

Big East Championship Tournament[edit]

Big East Regular Season[edit]

The Big East did not begin sponsoring regular season conference play and regular season standings until 1990. Since that time, Pitt had won six regular season Big East Championships and finished second four times.

Big East Southern Division Tournament[edit]

In some years, prior to the establishment of round-robin conference play and standings in 1990, the Big East held regular season division tournaments. In the three years that Pitt participated in the Big East Southern Division Tournament, it did not lose a match and lost only one set to claim three Big East Southern Division Tournament titles.

Big East Souther Division Tournament Champions (3)

  • 1982 (3-0)
  • 1983 (3-0)
  • 1984 (6-0)

Individual awards & honors[edit]

National awards[edit]

Academic All-Americans[edit]

1983 Judy Young, CoSIDA[22]
1985 Judy Young, CoSIDA[22]
1987 Noreen Coughlin
2009 Meagan Dooley, ESPN the Magazine First Team & CoSIDA[22]

Conference awards[edit]

Pitt Volleyball Season by Season Results[edit]

Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Mary Kromer (1974–1975)
1974 Mary Kromer 14-3 EAIAW Regional Tournament (quarterfinals)
1975 Mary Kromer 18-2 EAIAW Regional Tournament
Mary Kromer: 32-5 -
Mike Hebert (1976–1979)
1976 Mike Hebert 26-6 EAIAW Regional Tournament (4th)
1977 Mike Hebert 27-13 EAIAW Regional Tournament (4th)
1978 Mike Hebert 40-12 EAIAW Regional Champions
AIAW National Championships (13th)
1979 Mike Hebert 34-22-3 EAIAW Regional Champions
AIAW National Championships
Mike Hebert: 127-53-3 -
Shelton Collier (Big East Conference beginning in 1982) (1980–1988)
1980 Shelton Collier 41-14 EAIAW Regional Tournament (3rd)
1981 Shelton Collier 37-15 EAIAW Regional Champions
AIAW National Championships (9th)
1982 Shelton Collier 41-7 Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
1983 Shelton Collier 31-11 Big East Tournament Runner-up
1984 Shelton Collier 30-8 Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
1985 Shelton Collier 26-11 Big East Tournament Runner-up
1986 Shelton Collier 27-13 Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
1987 Shelton Collier 37-6 Big East Tournament
NCAA First Round
1988 Shelton Collier 24-9 Big East Tournament Champions
Shelton Collier: 294-94 -
Sue Woodstra (Big East Conference) (1989–1992)
1989 Sue Woodstra 32-10 Big East Tournament Champions
Women's Invitational Volleyball Championship (3rd)
1990 Sue Woodstra 32-6 7-0[25] 1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA Second Round
1991 Sue Woodstra 28-9 7-0 1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
1992 Sue Woodstra 18-14 5-2 T-1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
Sue Woodstra: 110-39 19-2[25]
Cindy Alvear (Big East Conference) (1993–1999)
1993 Cindy Alvear 23-10 7-0 1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA First Round
1994 Cindy Alvear 21-11 7-1 T-1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA Second Round
1995 Cindy Alvear 19-15 10-1 2nd Big East Tournament Runner-up
National Invitational Volleyball Championship
1996 Cindy Alvear 22-11 9-2 2nd Big East Tournament Runner-up
1997 Cindy Alvear 15-13 6-5 T-4th Big East Tournament
1998 Cindy Alvear 16-14 5-6 T-6th Big East Tournament
1999 Cindy Alvear 12-10 4-7 T-7th
Cindy Alvear: 128-84 48-22
Chris Beerman (Big East Conference) (2000–2007)
2000 Chris Beerman 22-10 8-3 3rd Big East Tournament
2001 Chris Beerman 11-16 7-5 5th
2002 Chris Beerman 20-9 9-4 T-4th
2003 Chris Beerman 26-6 11-1 T-1st Big East Tournament Champions
NCAA Second Round
2004 Chris Beerman 21-11 8-2 T-2nd Big East Tournament Runner-up
NCAA First Round
2005 Chris Beerman 17-13 9-5 T-4th Big East Tournament
2006 Chris Beerman 22-9 10-4 T-3rd Big East Tournament
2007 Chris Beerman 15-16 8-6 T-6th
Chris Beerman: 154-90 70–30
Toby Rens (Big East Conference) (2008–2012)
2008 Toby Rens 17-14 8-6 T-6th Big East Tournament
2009 Toby Rens 20-11 12-2 T-2nd Big East Tournament
2010 Toby Rens 13-18 7-7 T-6th Big East Tournament
2011 Toby Rens 18-15 7-7 T-8th Big East Tournament
2012 Toby Rens 17-14 7-8 T-6th Big East Tournament
Toby Rens: 85-72 41-30
Dan Fisher (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2013–Present)
2013 Dan Fisher 19-14 11-9 T-5th
2014 Dan Fisher 25-6 13-5 5th
2015 Dan Fisher 23-9 13-7 6th
2016 Dan Fisher 25-9 15-5 T-4th NCAA Second Round
Dan Fisher: 92-38 52-26
Total: 1022-475-3

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Men's volleyball[edit]

Varsity men's volleyball was sponsored at the University of Pittsburgh for five seasons from to 1979 to 1983 before it was dropped as a varsity sport due to athletic department budget cuts.[26] The team was coached by Ray Reilly, and in only its second season of existence, went 8-0 against its division of the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League (ECVL), winning its division and finishing third in the league championship.[27] In the program's final year, the team, led by All-East players David Baird and Tony Zortea, defeated a top ten team for the first time in program history, finished third in the ECVL, and was ranked 12th in the final NCAA volleyball poll.[28] Competitive intercollegiate men's volleyball at the university now exists as a non-varsity club sport.[29]


  1. ^ "Graphic Standards | University of Pittsburgh" (PDF). Communications.pitt.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Volleyball Releases 2007 Schedule". PittsburghPanthers.com. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b Duck, Sophia, ed. (2009). Pitt Women's Volleyball 2009 Media Guide. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. pp. 58–59. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  4. ^ The Owl. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 1975. p. 134. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  5. ^ a b c Duck, Sophia, ed. (2009). Pitt Women's Volleyball 2009 Media Guide. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. p. 56. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  6. ^ a b c "A Living Legend". BigTen.org. 2006-11-20. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  7. ^ The Owl. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 1979. p. 135. Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  8. ^ "Pitt Wins Volleyball Tourney". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. 1979-11-18. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  9. ^ Axelrod, Phil (1980-08-06). "Changes in women's coaching getting to be a habit with Pitt". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  10. ^ "Pitt Women Upset Volleyball Power". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, PA. 1981-08-30. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  11. ^ Sciullo, Maria (1982-09-25). "Julie Gaul: Pitt's volleyball team is set while she's around". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  12. ^ Duck, Sophia, ed. (2009). Pitt Women's Volleyball 2009 Media Guide. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. p. 35. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  13. ^ Eberson, Sharon (1982-11-18). "Pitt rides emotion to volleyball title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  14. ^ a b c Duck, Sophia, ed. (2009). Pitt Women's Volleyball 2009 Media Guide. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. p. 57. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  15. ^ NCAA Volleyball Division I Records (PDF). Indianapolis, IN: National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2009. p. 23. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  16. ^ "Louisville Volleyball selected as 2009 Big East Favorite for second-strait year" (PDF) (Press release). Big East Conference. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  17. ^ "Women's Volleyball Announces its 2010 Schedule". PittsburghPanthers.com. 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  18. ^ Fittipaldo, Ray (July 18, 2012). "Pitt's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference is now official". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Fisher Named New Head Women's Volleyball Coach". PittsburghPanthers.com. January 15, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "2003 AVCA All-America Teams". American Volleyball Coaches Association. December 17, 2003. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "2009 AVCA Division I All-America Teams". American Volleyball Coaches Association. December 16, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c CoSIDA Academic All-American All-Time List (by School) (PDF), College Sports Information Directors of America, 2012-03-08, pp. 352–353, retrieved 2012-06-02 
  23. ^ Gambardella, Michael J. (2009). 2009 Big East Volleyball Media Guide. Providence, RI: The Big East Conference. p. 60. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  24. ^ Bedsworth, Susan; Campbell, Lindsey, eds. (2009). 2009 Syracuse University Volleyball Guide. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Athletic Communications. p. 25. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  25. ^ a b The Big East Conference Volleyball Media Guide lists Pitt with a conference record of 7-0 in 1990, which is the conference record used in this article.[23] The Pitt Volleyball Media Guide lists Pitt with a record of 6-0. The discrepancy lies in the September 28, 1990 Pitt win over Big East Conference member Syracuse in the Syracuse Invitational. Pitt apparently does not list this as a Big East regular season victory by nature of the game taking place in an in-season tournament rather than an individual scheduled match, but victory is counted as a Big East victory according to the 1990 conference standings listed in the Big East Media Guide. Syracuse's loss to Pitt is counted in their conference record in both the Big East media guide and the Syracuse volleyball media guide.[24]
  26. ^ "Pitt cuts men's volleyball program". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. 1983-02-17. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  27. ^ The Owl. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 1980. p. 115. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  28. ^ Panther Prints. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. 1983. p. 66. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  29. ^ "University of Pittsburgh Men's Volleyball Club". Pittmensvbclub.com. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]