In college athletics, losing players is a way of life. Players come for four years, graduate and coaches recruit their replacements in the off-season. However, the USF volleyball team has endured the loss of two players in the last week alone.
Junior Kristen Richardson quit the team and Maryann Mooney will again be sidelined due to her ongoing ankle injury.
Like Richardson, sophomore Tally Payne left the team earlier this season. Without Richardson and Mooney, the Bulls (9-6, 3-3 in Conference USA) will be down to 10 players on the roster when they face Charlotte (7-9, 1-6) today and East Carolina (3-13, 1-6) Saturday.
“(Richardson and Payne quitting) hasn’t affected them,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “It affected them in the moment, but I think that they’ve moved on and they understand.”
Mooney’s loss will be felt the hardest. The junior had managed to return to the lineup after missing the first 10 games due to the injury and now expects to miss at least three weeks after being put on crutches again.
“I had a bone scan on Monday,” Mooney said. “There are several different things going on in my bone.
“Nothing real specific that they’re real sure of. Nothing good obviously, because they’re putting me in a cast (Thursday).”Richardson saw action in 13 matches for the Bulls at middle blocker this season, though she hadn’t played since Sept. 18. In her two prior seasons at USF, Richardson appeared in 41 matches, accumulating 59 kills and 29 digs.
“It’s something obviously I hadn’t anticipated,” Mooney said of the departures of Payne and Richardson. “It’s what’s best for them. We miss them, (but) you can’t push someone to do something that isn’t in their heart anymore or is not what’s best for them. Kristen still loves volleyball and so does Tally, but this team, it wasn’t the right place for them.”
With the loss of Mooney and Richardson, Mueller will have just 10 players at her disposal. The Bulls would be wise to not overlook the 49ers, even though they’re on a seven-match losing streak. Charlotte won five straight before its current slide, with the last victory a 3-1 triumph against Cincinnati Sept. 21. The Bearcats defeated USF 3-0 Oct. 5.
“This team (Charlotte) can surprise you, and I think that if we underestimate (them) there’s a good chance they will,” Mueller said. “I want us to maintain our composure and poise, regardless of the score of the game. I want us to come out and dominate. We have the potential to do that, and I haven’t seen us do it yet.”