The USF volleyball team took a few steps in the wrong direction last weekend when it dropped matches to Conference USA leaders Cincinnati and Louisville.
This weekend, the Bulls (11-6, 5-3 in C-USA) had perfect rhythm in dispatching C-USA cellar dwellers Charlotte (7-10, 1-7) Friday and East Carolina (4-14, 2-7) Saturday.
“I think these two conference wins will help immensely,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “Not so much in terms of the standings, but for our confidence. We got a chance to try some different lineups and rest some players.”
Behind a strong .392 attack percentage, USF had no problem picking up the 30-21, 30-18, 30-18 victory Saturday against East Carolina. Jolene Patton led the attack with 18 kills and a sparkling .593 attack percentage on 27 attempts.
Patton’s performance stood out, but USF had a balanced attack, as Rachel Jobes, Bonnye Glover and Michelle Collier each contributed seven kills. Jobes was 7-10 (.700) with no errors and Glover committed just one error to hit .429 for the match.
“Jolene really killed the ball this weekend,” Mueller said. “When we needed her to, she terminated the play. Jolene has the potential to control a match, as do Kelly (Mathiasmeier) and Michelle. However, our game plan is to get the ball to the hot hitter and they just didn’t play as well as Jolene (this weekend).”
As good as Patton and the offense were Saturday, the USF defense may have been even better Friday vs. Charlotte. The 49ers had a negative hitting percentage in Games 1 and 2, as the Bulls took the match 30-20, 30-13, 33-31, handing Charlotte its eighth straight loss.
The Bulls’ defense tallied nine blocks and 40 digs, while holding the 49ers to a .108 attack percentage. Only Florida Atlantic (.085) hit for a lower percentage against the Bulls this season.
Even serve reception, which had been a problem for the Bulls against Cincinnati when they committed 10 errors, improved, as USF surrendered just two aces to the 49ers.
“We passed (on serve reception) well enough to run our offense,” Mueller said.
“We were able to get Jolene involved in the offense and we blocked the ball fairly well. We’re still just in the middle of the pack in the conference in terms of defense, and I think we’re capable of being one of the leaders.”