The USF volleyball team swept through New Orleans and Southern Mississippi this weekend to push its winning streak to four games. The Bulls (7-3, 1-0 in Conference USA) haven?t lost since their Sept. 8 match vs. No. 15 Ohio State.
Sunday?s 30-16, 29-31, 30-21, 30-25 victory against New Orleans (3-6) featured outstanding play from Michelle Collier, who fell one ace shy of a triple-double. Collier?s nine aces set a new career high for the junior and tied for the second highest single-match total in school history.
?Michelle?s jump serve was very strong and consistent,? USF coach Nancy Mueller said. ?They (New Orleans) couldn?t seem to handle it.?
In addition to her nine aces, Collier contributed 21 kills and 16 digs. Collier hit for a .327 attack percentage and was one of five Bulls who hit higher than .325 against the Privateers. As a team, the Bulls hit .296.
?We?ve really started to distribute the ball to all of our hitters recently,? Mueller said. ?I see us getting more comfortable with each other on the court and building that sense of reliability.?
The Bulls received plenty of production from their middle blockers, where Bonnye Glover supplied five kills on 11 attempts for a .455 percentage vs. New Orleans. However, freshman Shameka Mitchell shone brightest this weekend as she notched double-digit kills vs. Southern Miss and UNO.
?Something just started to click for her this weekend,? Mueller said of Mitchell. ?She?s picking up the game very quickly.?
Mitchell provided 15 kills against the Golden Eagles (5-6, 0-2 in C-USA) Saturday, as the Bulls had four players with 12 or more kills in their 30-25, 30-17, 25-30, 30-17 victory. As the Bulls? anchor in the middle, Mitchell helped stifle the Golden Eagles? attack as they only hit for a .115 attack percentage. For the two matches, Mitchell had 25 kills on 46 attempts with just five errors for a .434 attack percentage.
?Shameka?s a great athlete who knows how to make adjustments,? Mueller said. ?She?s also a great listener who?s always looking for feedback to make herself a better player.?
The Bulls? defense also came to the forefront this weekend as neither New Orleans nor USM managed to strike better than .200 against USF. The Bulls also managed to out-dig both opponents with USF scoring a decided 69-55 advantage in that statistic against Southern Miss. Faith Tarver, Kelly Mathiasmeier, Jolene Patton, Lindsay Guidish and Collier all recorded double-digit digs against the Golden Eagles.
?We still have some areas where we struggle,? Mueller said. ?But this team is good at keeping the play alive and terminating the ball when we need to.
?We have some experienced players who know how to read the ball and are in position to make that dig. We really just executed our game plan to near perfection.?
Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org