The USF volleyball team had No. 23 Louisville on the ropes Sunday, but its upset bid went awry when the Cardinals pulled out a five-game victory. The Bulls (9-6, 3-3 in Conference USA) lost the first game, but a 32-30 Game 3 victory gave USF a 2-1 lead.
Louisville (11-1, 6-0) was undaunted, charging back with a 30-23 Game 4 win. The decisive fifth game was tied at 10, but Louisville ran off three straight points, the third a controversial net violation on USF middle blocker Bonnye Glover, en route to winning 15-12.
“Louisville is a great team, so we knew that they would never give up,” USF outside hitter Michelle Collier said. “They weren’t going to hand us a game, so we had to act when the pressure’s on. We had some bad calls that got our mind off the game, but we never gave up – (not) once.”
Sunday was a big turnaround for a Bulls squad that struggled mightily with Cincinnati Friday. UC swept the Bulls in three games, 30-25, 30-26 and 30-23. The Bearcats held Collier to her worst game of the season, as she had just seven kills and 17 attack errors.
The lone USF bright spot against the Bearcats was the stellar play of freshman Rachel Jobes. From her middle blocker spot, she had 12 kills on 17 attempts for a .765 attack percentage.Collier rebounded from the Cincinnati match with a near record-setting performance against UL. Her 36 kills tied Fiona Waters for the fourth-best single match total in school history. The whole USF attack improved from the Cincinnati match, as Kelly Mathiasmeier supplied 13 kills and Jolene Patton put her seven-kill, seven-error performance behind her with Sunday’s 21 kills and .333 hitting percentage.
Collier was at her finest in the clutch as she contributed five kills in the fifth game. After the net violation on Glover, Collier recorded two kills to prevent the Cardinals from finishing off the Bulls.
“Michelle knows she’s our go-to (player),” Mueller said. “She really needed to redeem herself from Friday night. That’s the type of player Michelle is – she’ll come through in the clutch for us.”However, as good as Collier and the Bulls were, it wasn’t enough to stop the 23rd-ranked Cardinals during the fifth game. “This was the best we’ve played all season,” Mathiasmeier said. “It’s definitely an indicator of good things to come.”