USF hopes to ‘get over the hump’
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
After losing two close road matches last weekend, the Bulls volleyball team (10-9, 2-4) hopes to get back on track with a four-game home stand.
The Villanova Wildcats (8-10, 3-2) come to the Sun Dome Corral at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Coach Courtney Draper said her team is preparing for unusually tall defenders. The Wildcats have seven players six feet or taller, and two of the tallest players in the conference — 6-foot-4 middle blocker Gabby Pethokoukis and 6-foot-5 outside hitter Carly Edwards.
The Wildcats’ size could make it difficult to score, but the Bulls will finally get a break from kill-shot specialists, which they have faced in previous games. No Wildcats player averages more than three kills per set.
Though Villanova ranks near the bottom of the Big East in kills, assists and hitting, it ranks in the top half in blocks, service aces and digs.
“They’re definitely more skilled on defense,” Draper said.
On Sunday, the Georgetown Hoyas (6-12, 0-5 Big East) will take the court against the Bulls at 2 p.m.
The Bulls’ main focus will be dual-threat sophomore Alex Johnson, a Tampa native. The 5-foot-11 outside hitter averages about four kills and nearly four digs per set.
“It seems like every opponent has that type of player,” Draper said. “We focus on the best players and try to make the supporting players beat us.”
Last weekend the Bulls didn’t succeed at that goal.
Silvi Uattara of Syracuse hurt the Bulls with 25 kills to pace the Orange.
“I do feel we got too comfortable,” Draper said. “We’re not experienced enough to play a roller-coaster type of game.”
After that loss, the Bulls lost the first set to the first place Marquette Golden Eagles 25-11 last Sunday, but forced the match to five sets.
USF now finds itself in a fight to secure one of the eight Big East Tournament seeds. Draper hopes to use the four-game home stand to prepare the team mentally for the rest of the season.
“Hopefully we can get over the hump and build momentum that we can take on the road afterwards,” said Draper.
Coming off two heartbreaking losses, the Bulls look to fight from opening serve and finish efficiently. Draper said the losses can be a building block for the rest of the season.
“Sometimes they need to feel that hurt a couple times, so that they keep themselves from feeling it again,” said Draper.