The USF volleyball team will end its 10-day layoff today on the road against Florida State. The Bulls (4-3) were scheduled to be the host team for the Best Western Invitational this past weekend, but the tragic events in New York and Washington led to the postponement of the four-team event. A Sept. 8 victory against Loyola in Chicago was the Bulls? last match.
?In light of what happened, we?re really insignificant,? USF coach Nancy Mueller said about the team?s long break. ?We got plenty of rest and we?re hungry to play. Plus, maybe it?ll help get the kids? minds off this situation.?
The Bulls intended to play St. Louis Sunday, but Conference USA?s decision to postpone all events plus travel problems prevented the match from being played.
?We were a little sluggish at first, but then we got back into it,? outside hitter Michelle Collier said. ?Getting ready for this weekend, we didn?t know if we were going to play or not. We only found out on Friday that the St. Louis match was canceled.?
The Seminoles enter tonight?s matchup 1-4, but like USF, the Noles have three losses to top-25 opponents. No. 13 Pepperdine, No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 25 Texas have handed FSU defeats so far this season.
?I think experience counts a lot,? Collier said about the Bulls? three losses to top-25 teams. ?We?re not so young as a team, but when it?s 27-27, it?s better to have players who have been there and done that.?
The Bulls feature four players in their rotation who are in their first year with the squad. Freshmen Rachel Jobes and Shameka Mitchell have played at middle blocker and junior college transfer Alessandra Domingos starts at setter.
?With rally scoring, a team can end the match in three plays if it?s 27-27,? Domingos said. ?That?s why were not as good as top-25 teams right now, because we don?t have the experience to close out matches. But I think that we?re on the right track.?
The Seminoles? anchor is their 6-foot-4-inch middle blocker Norisha Campbell. Campbell was dominant during the 2000 campaign, leading the Noles in blocks and hitting for a .351 percentage. Those numbers placed her on the All Atlantic Coast Conference team and made her an All Region selection. Campbell also competed for the U.S. national team. FSU finished fourth in the ACC in 2000 with a 9-8 record, going 21-11 overall. Setting up Campbell?s kills will be sophomore Jennifer Anderson, who averaged more than 33 assists per match last season.
?They?re a very physical team and Norisha Campbell is an excellent player,? Mueller said. ?They?re a big blocking team, and their setter Anderson can really move the ball around. They have a couple of Tampa kids (outside hitters Alex Sevillano and Dawn Hough) on that team, so it should be interesting.?
The Bulls? all-time record against the Seminoles is 4-34 dating back to the programs? inception in 1972. However, the two squads haven?t met since the 1998 season when the Seminoles handed the Bulls a three-game loss.
?Tully Gym is a hard place to play in and a hard place to win from what I?ve heard,? Mueller said. ?But we?re prepared to face every challenge head-on.?
Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at email@example.com