During the first game of USF’s volleyball match Wednesday night, the Bulls looked flat.
That soon changed.
The Bulls let Florida International tie the game at 16 before pulling away for a 30-23 victory.
The Bulls controlled the rest of the match, playing only two more games to scores of 30-17, 30-21.
The week layoff since USF faced Florida Atlantic did not seem to bother the Bulls after they settled in.
“It’s good to come out and play strong after having the week off,” coach Nancy Mueller said. “I think we needed the rest to let our bodies recuperate a little bit. I was very impressed on how we played.”
The Bulls (12-4) used the final match of non-conference play to work on accuracy and consistency.
The Bulls were accurate with a .362 hitting percentage while holding the Golden Panthers (4-12) to .096.
“Things that I was kind of hustling about, we definitely picked it up,” Mueller said. “We tried to refocus some things and just come out and execute.”
The layoff might have caused the Bulls to come out flat in the first game, but they quickly recovered and were a rejuvenated team.
USF had one team block and allowed FIU’s Adriana Fundora to record six kills in the first game. Fundora had six kills in the second and third game combined.
The Bulls needed Michelle Collier’s six kills and freshman Corinne Walsh’s five kills to secure the victory against the Golden Panthers.
“We wanted to get better in blocking, which we did,” Mueller said. “We wanted to get better in slowing (Fundora) down. I don’t know if we did that, but we were able to contain her. She had a great night for them; she had 12 kills.”
After the Bulls refocused their defense, they finished the match with five blocks.
Another difference in the Bulls after the first game was their serving.
In the first game, USF could not connect on a single ace. To start off the second game, Walsh hit two consecutive aces to get the Bulls off to a 5-0 lead, which they never lost.
Collier added two more and Jolene Patton had three to bring the game total to seven. For the entire match USF had 10 aces.
“We definitely were trying to stay aggressive with our serve because serving is our first weapon,” Collier said. “We are trying to get them out of their offense and stay aggressive.”
Walsh and Collier were two of three Bulls with double-figure kills with 10 each. Shameka Mitchell added 11 for USF.
Walsh also led the team with two block assists.
“She had a great match,” Mueller said. “She has just been real consistent. She’s been able to step it up consistently, especially with her hitting efficiency.”
“She keeps the ball in play, and if the ball is not hittable she keeps it in play and gives us another opportunity to play defense.”
Another newcomer to see action for the Bulls was junior setter Melayne Wootan, who transferred from Scottsdale Community College.
Wootan started in place of Ale Domingos in the third game and had 14 assists.
“We’re just trying to get her some reps in case something happens with Ale. We just want to be able to throw Melayne in there, so she can take over,” Mueller said. “She was able to come in there, and it wasn’t like the tempo of the game changed at all.”
The Bulls will start conference play when they host East Carolina Friday after completing the non-conference schedule in which they learned from both their wins and losses.
“(Non-conference) went great; we learned a lot, and it was great for our team chemistry,” Collier said. “We had good wins and bad losses. It was all that we needed for conference.”