A team in the middle of the season can go through some lulls. USF volleyball coach Nancy Mueller hopes her fiery speech in practice Wednesday can spark her team to avoid a letdown against UAB (7-12, 1-8 in Conference USA) Saturday.
“It’s very frustrating to know that they’re very talented and only doing enough to get by,” Mueller said. “I expect them to come into every practice like they’re practicing for a Louisville (12-3, 7-2), not like you’re practicing for the last place team in the conference.
They know that, but sometimes they don’t do it.”The Bulls (11-6, 5-3) provided a game effort in losing a five-game match to then-No. 23 Louisville Oct. 7. However, the last time USF played UAB, the Bulls struggled to put away a depleted Blazers squad. This time, both starting setter Jessica Liptak and outside hitter Shelly Greene will be in uniform for UAB. Even with only six players available for UAB, USF couldn’t seem to dominate the Blazers Oct. 2. Serve reception yielded 13 errors for USF and they had a .225 attack percentage.
“My job is to get them all on the same page,” Mueller said. “I have to know when to push and when not to push them. At that point (Wednesday’s practice), they were coasting.”
Saturday’s match with UAB is the first of a big stretch run for the Bulls. They will have eight matches in the next 15 days, with five of the opponents being C-USA foes. Cincinnati leads C-USA with a 7-1 mark. Therefore, any hopes of repeating as conference champs depend upon a near flawless run through that gauntlet.
“Part of becoming a team is getting rid of individualism, and in order to do that sometimes you have to tear down some personalities,” Mueller said. “Not necessarily tear down, but get everybody on the same page and to do that you have to have expectations and hold people accountable (to them). I’m not willing to sacrifice (wins and losses) for a lack of effort.”