The Bulls’ four-game winning streak came to a halt this weekend as the USF volleyball team was swept by both Connecticut and St. John’s 3-0. The losses dropped the Bulls to seventh in the Big East.
USF (11-12, 6-4) struggled on Sunday as St. John’s (25-1, 10-0), the No. 1 team in the Big East, had control for most of the match. USF fell behind early after three consecutive kills by Red Storm outside hitter Hui Ping Huang allowed St. John’s to get a 5-1 lead.
The Bulls were able to cut the lead to two after two consecutive points from freshman setter Brittany Castelamare.
That was as close as the Bulls would get. The Red Storm went on a 10-2 run and won the first game 30-12. USF was able to keep up with St. John’s in the second and third games, but was unable to grab the lead in either game and lost Game 2 30-19 and Game 3 30-17.
Junior Kristina Fabris led USF with nine points off of eight kills as the Bulls struggled to score against a tough Red Storm defense.
“I credit St. John’s; they have been the most consistent team we’ve faced in conference so far,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “It’s tough going against a team that’s powerful on both sides of the ball. When you see what they’ve done this year, you go in with a nothing-to-lose attitude because you are the underdog and the pressure is on them to win.”
USF started strong against the Huskies (15-9, 4-5) on Friday behind the efforts of Fabris and redshirt freshman Marcela Gurgel, who each led the Bulls with 13 kills, however, they were unable to maintain a lead, and Connecticut won Game 1 32-30. The second and third games went similarly, as USF started strong and was able to get small leads early. However, the Bulls couldn’t shut down the Huskies’ rallies and lost the final two games 30-22 and 30-26.
“Our biggest disappointment was our defensive effort. We went in knowing that whoever came up better on the defensive side of the ball was going to win the match, and we really didn’t show up,” Lessinger said. “We were in every one of those games, and we don’t feel that they beat us – we beat ourselves by not executing in crucial plays.”