Recruits, parents have Bulls’ eye

If recruits, parents and homework aren’t enough distractions in one weekend, the USF volleyball team also hosts two matches against Conference USA contenders. Today at 7 p.m., the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-5, 3-1) bring their four-match winning streak and reigning C-USA Player of the Week Becky Stahl to the Corral to take on the Bulls (9-4, 3-1). USF hosts Louisville (9-1, 4-0), which has won nine straight, at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend because it’s Parents’ Weekend,” senior Kelly Mathiasmeier said. “Our number one priority is our matches. We want to play well for our parents, and all the other stuff is just an added bonus.”

In between the two matches, players are hosting potential recruits as well as entertaining their parents. The three matches at home this week are the last for the Bulls until an Oct. 23 match vs. UCF.

“Having all these distractions at one time might be bad, but on the other side, you know that you have support,” junior Michelle Collier said. “We just try to stay together and stay focused. When your parents are here, you want to play your best for them, and you want to play the best for your friends and everyone else, especially on your home court against such good teams as Cincinnati and Louisville. Everyone knows the importance of these games.”

Stahl racked up an impressive week Sept. 23-30, as the Bearcats defeated Western Kentucky and C-USA foes Houston and Texas Christian. Stahl’s all-around dominance filled the box score against the Hilltoppers, as she tallied 26 kills, 10 digs, five aces and four blocks. During UC’s current four-match winning streak, Stahl has at least 20 kills in every match.

“Cincinnati is a pretty well-balanced team who has some players with experience in (middle blocker) Bonita Wise and last year’s C-USA Freshman of the Year, setter Laura Lauder,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “The key for us against Becky Stahl, who is only a freshman, is that she’ll get her kills; we just have to contain her and keep her to (a limited number of) attempts. We’re not going to block every ball.”

The Bulls and Bearcats enter the matchup tied for fourth in the C-USA standings behind Louisville and DePaul, which are both undefeated.

“This week is very important to us, and they know that going into it,” Mueller said. “It started Tuesday with UAB (a 3-0 USF victory), and we want to get back on track.”

The Bulls had a five-match winning streak snapped Sunday against DePaul as the Blue Demons rallied from a two-game deficit to take the match 3-2. Since the start of the 2000 season, USF is 19-3 in conference play, including 16 victories in a row before losing to Louisville in the championship game of the 2000 C-USA Tournament. The Cardinals also dealt the Bulls a loss in the championship game of the 1998 C-USA Tournament.

“It’s important for us to play well this weekend and get on a good roll for conference,” Mathiasmeier said. “Louisville is always important since they beat us in the conference tournament and we want revenge this year.”

  • Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at