Both a challenge and an award await the USF volleyball team this weekend — whether it wins or loses.
Not only will it look to earn a Big East tournament berth, but it will take some time to honor its seniors as well.
USF (15-12, 5-7) will close out its Big East schedule as the team hosts the Seton Hall Pirates (14-13, 6-6) on Friday night and the Villanova Wildcats (14-14, 5-7) on Sunday afternoon. With two wins, the Bulls would qualify for the tournament that will be held in Pittsburgh next weekend. Coach Claire Lessinger said she knows her team has its back against the wall.
“They understand the situation,” Lessinger said. “Our team is pretty loose and we want to come out and have fun, especially since we’re playing at home. We know that in order to go to the tournament, we have to win and play the best we can.”
This weekend will also give the Bulls an opportunity to honor their seniors. Libero Stephanie Augustavo, middle blocker Nakia Williams, and outside hitter Cynthia Danthon will be honored before the Villanova match Sunday. Lessinger said she is very proud of the senior class for its achievements.
“This senior class has overcome a lot,” she said. “They know what it feels like to be picked last in the Big East. It’s been a pleasure to watch them grow as players and as people.”
The seniors agreed that making the Big East Tournament is their primary goal right now.
“It would be very special,” Williams said. “We have worked all season in order to get a tournament berth, and I believe we can do it if we just play USF volleyball.”
Augustavo said there is some pressure on the seniors to win both matches this weekend.
“It would be great to win these two matches,” she said. “As a senior, I do not want to end my career without playing in the Big East tournament.”
Danthon said earning that trip would mean a lot to her.
“It would be amazing,” she said. “For me, it would be the best feeling ever.”