The USF volleyball team dropped all three of its matches at the Michigan State Tournament in East Lansing over the weekend, as tournament host the Spartans won their fifth consecutive Invitational, sweeping Ball State 3-0 (30-25, 30-19, 30-19).
“(The) first weekend is always a great opportunity to see where you stand and find out what you need work on,” coach Claire Lessinger said.
The Bulls opened their season with a match against Ball State, but the Cardinals took control of the first game early. USF hung tough with a series of small runs but the miscues began piling up, leading to a 30-27 loss in Game 1. The Bulls battled back to take Games 2 and 3 due to the strong play of freshman setter Kate Verhoff and sophomore Kristina Fabris, two of eight underclassmen on the roster.
Verhoff notched 56 assists and 12 digs while tallying six kills and four aces in her first collegiate game, and Fabris had 21 kills and 16 digs. The Cardinals were out-hit in Game 3, .222 to -.031, and recorded twice as many kills at 16-8.
Friday night was not much better for the Bulls, which ended in a sweep by Michigan State, 30-22, 30-18 and 30-22.
The Spartans trounced the Bulls with 53 kills.
“The biggest difference between all of those teams and us was unforced errors. I am truly just hoping for some better leadership and better consistency on the floor which will help us minimize the errors,” Lessinger said.
In only her second collegiate match, Verhoff again played well, tallying 31 assists and four aces.
On the final day of the tournament, the Bulls matched up with Wichita State, who made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.
The Shockers proved why they went so far last season, topping USF in every statistical category. Fabris, Verhoff and freshman middle blocker Ashley McDowell turned in strong efforts, but Wichita State overpowered USF and controlled the net, getting another 3-0 sweep.
Verhoff proved to be the Bulls’ lone bright spot from the weekend. In 11 games, she totaled 11 kills and averaged nearly 10.3 assists per game, landing her on the MSU Invitational All-Tournament Team.