USF (5-6) had a rough weekend as tournament hosts at the Corral on Friday and Saturday.
The Bulls started off strong Friday night when they took on former Big East foe Pittsburgh.
USF took the first set 25-20, but Pittsburgh took the second set 25-22.
The Bulls reversed that score in the third set to pull off a 25-22 win, but the fourth set went to the Panthers 25-13.
Pittsburgh carried the momentum into the final set of the match with a score of 15-8 and handed the Bulls to a five-set loss to start out the tournament.
USF coach Courtney Draper said the loss came as another tough blow after a disappointing road tournament the previous weekend.
“We got beat up a little bit last weekend,” Draper said. “Then with a five-set loss, that really kind of takes the wind out of us.”
Saturday afternoon, USF faced FAU and came out of the match with a three-set win, 25-22, 25-18, 25-20 to get back on the winning track. Sophomore Erin Fairs, freshman Dakota Hampton and freshman Amy Van Sant led the Bulls to victory, each with double-digit digs, while USF out-hit FAU .293-.128 in the first two sets.
The USF Invitational ended Saturday night with a nightcap against Purdue, their second ranked opponent of the year.
Purdue controlled the first set with a 25-12 score. USF came back with a stronger defense in the second set, but it wasn’t enough and the Boilermakers took the set 25-21.
The third set went to Purdue, 25-19, and the Boilermakers racked up 12 blocks in the three-set match.
The 12 blocks was the second-highest total against USF this season, behind a total of 15 blocks at the hands of Northern Colorado on Sept. 7.
Even though the Bulls lost to Purdue and went 1-2 on the weekend, Draper said the team is improving. Sophomore Natalia Soares led the Bulls’ improved passing with 17 assists and seven digs against Purdue, while Fairs collected double-digit kills.
“We did some good things,” Draper said. “I thought that our serving game improved and that our passing was actually pretty good. I wish our hitting was a little more on, but I thought that we hustled defensively. Those were the positives coming out of it.”
Next weekend, the Bulls travel to Chicago for a tournament hosted by Northwestern.