Volleyball goes winless on road

By Banel Paulinis, Commentary
On September 19, 2011

Everything seemed amiss.

The Bulls came out winless at the Wisconsin InnTowner Challenge and looked nothing like the team that ripped through its last four games undefeated.

In USF's first match against Wisconsin, the Bulls were outplayed to the tune of a 3-0 (17-25, 10-25, 12-25) loss, falling to 0-5 record all-time against the Badgers Friday.

"We struggled out of the gates with our passing and it crumbled from there," coach Claire Lessinger said. "Wisconsin played very physical and it was too much for us."

It was an attractive matchup, with both teams entering the match riding four-game winning streaks and featuring two of the top blocking defenses in the country.

But in the end, USF was out-blocked by its opponent for the first time all season. The Bulls were also held to under 20 points in all three sets.

USF's fortune didn't turn in its second match, as Western Michigan handed it a 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-27, 15-27) defeat Saturday.

"We played great on the defensive side of the ball," Lessinger said. "Having four players with double digit digs was impressive. Our biggest missed opportunity was in the third set. We were in control down the stretch and let it slip away with missed opportunities."

The Bulls finished off the weekend with a disappointing 3-0 (19-25, 17-25, 20-25) sweep Sunday to Northern Illinois, ranked No. 22 in the RPI.

Freshman outside hitter Valerie El Houssine followed up last week's superb performance with 29 total kills and Janice Rivera tallied 44 digs in the tournament.

"Northern Illinois was the toughest team we've faced so far this year," Lessinger said. "We had some shining moments and some big lifts off the bench, but nothing was enough. We played a very aggressive schedule and we are ready for Big East competition."

Lessinger said she believes the loss will create good film for the team to watch and learn from.

USF's first conference test will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Syracuse. The team travels to Marquette Sunday, and then plays a four-match homestand starting Saturday, Oct. 1 against Rutgers.

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