The USF volleyball team took the floor at the USF Corral Friday night with sole possession of second place in the American Athletic Conference.
When the Bulls left, they sat in a logjam for third place with Temple and SMU after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the UCF Knights for the second time this year. The pressure may have gotten to the Bulls, coach Courtney Draper said.
“There’s always a little added pressure with UCF being the cross-state rival,” she said. “I think the kids might’ve wanted it a little too much. That may have been the case tonight – trying too hard instead of containing composure.”
Losing by scores of 25-23, 25-19 and 25-23, USF dropped two nail-biting sets, but had six more attack errors than UCF in the match while playing solid defense, Draper added.
“Our passing wasn’t great,” Draper said. “Our offense struggled. We had what I’d consider a pretty good defensive performance. We limited some of their better attackers to low hitting percentages.”
Coming into the lone match up this weekend, USF (13-11, 7-3) had an opportunity to force a two-game lead over UCF (16-7, 7-3) and even the season series at 1-1. Instead, the Bulls have three losses in conference play after UCF ended a five-match winning streak. Two of those three losses are to the Knights.
The Bulls now have another week to create critical separation with a few other teams in the conference standings, Draper said, starting next weekend during a Northeast road trip.
“We go on the road to UConn and Rutgers,” she said. “We beat both of them in our gym (this season). I think that in itself gives our kids a little bit of confidence.”
For the Bulls, sophomore Erin Fairs set a new career-high in digs. In three sets, Fairs had 27 digs — second in the AAC among 3-set dig totals this season, behind Temple’s Alyssa Drachslin, who posted 28 on Oct. 18.
USF plays at UConn Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.